Sunday, September 29, 2013

My big girls

When the heck did these girls get to be this big!?!?  It really is unbelievable how lightning fast time is flying.  We stopped counting Lilah's words over a year ago, and the outfit Michaela is wearing in this picture is sized 18-24 months!  She isn't that old yet (thank God for small miracles), but she's just sooo big!  You can see her trying to steal her big sister's juice box.  I'm so excited to see who they're going to be as they get older, but couldn't they slow down...just a little...for me?

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Creative Knockouts--Robyn's Fetish

I guess I should have known that if scrapbookers are using digital tools to make layouts, then cardmakers probably are as well, but I recently stumbled upon a whole new side of digi crafting: DIGITAL STAMPS!  You know when you go to the craft store and see all those adorable images of snowmen, and pumpkins, and little mice dressed up in clothes, and you think I would love to be able to include that image in some of my work.  But…I DO NOT want that huge 5x7 wood mounted stamp taking up the precious room in my crafting space.  I have more stuff in this place than I have room for…maybe that’s hyperbole, but only a little bit.  I’m constantly bursting out of my craft space and into other areas of my house. 
Many husbands would find that annoying, but not mine!  He sees it as an opportunity!  If I can’t manage to keep my hobby contained in its space, how could he possibly be expected to keep his in his room.  After all, he builds models, they’re not flat like paper.  At least it seems like that’s his thought process because the few times when my craft supplies are only where they belong, I find far less space marines invading areas of my house that don’t belong to them.  That’s the reason that I was so happy to find cling stamps that take up so much less space than wood-mounted stamps.  The more stuff I can cram into my craft storage cubes, the less space marines are on my dining room table (and the less acrylic paint I find on Lilah’s clothes, but that’s another story).  So if I was happy to learn about cling stamps, you can imagine how excited I was to find stamps that took up no physical space at all. 

I was so excited that I rushed right out and joined a design team: Creative Knockouts.  Creative Knockouts is a challenge blog that gives readers a recipe each week for designing a card.  I’m the first scrapbooker to become part of the team, and it’s going to be fun to try to adapt recipes for a card to scrapbooking layouts.  This week they gave me a nice, easy challenge to start: use your favorite things! The sponsor for this week was Robyn’s Fetish, a fabulous digital stamp designer with a really varied catalog of images.  I knew I was going to Disney with my sister-in-law and my daughters.  When I think Disney, I think teacups, so I picked the English Tea Cup at the top of the post.
Since the challenge was to use our favorite things, I went right to one of my favorite digital designers, Peppermint Granberg of One Little Bird Designs.  Her Fairy Tale kit seemed perfectly suited for the picture of our group in front of Cinderella Castle. Continuing on the track of including my favorite things, I used brads, buttons, frames, and flat stickers from the kit.  I love the way that the English Teacup ties the photo to the journaling.  What do you think?

Thanks for the stamp, Robyn’s Fetish!  Head on over there to see what other goodies that they have for sale.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

One Little Word: Humility Revisited

It isn't that I've forgotten about humility since the last time I wrote about my One Little Word for 2013 project, quite to the contrary, I really have been working on being more humble in a whole bunch of different ways.  I've been working on listening before I speak. I've been trying (with intermittent success) to reign in my sarcasm and to make teasing people a little bit less automatic.
One thing that I learned in the Spring is that it's difficult to be humble and ambitious at the same time, especially when the road is full of stumbling blocks.  It takes a certain amount of ego to finish a Ph.D., to stand up in front of a group of your mentors and peers and boldly state that you've learned something completely new, that you deserve to be part of their club, and they're lucky to have you.  It's difficult for anyone, even at their best, but I haven't been at my best for a very long time.
I knew before I ever decided to have a baby that mental illness is a significant risk for people in my family, but I was completely unprepared for how hard I was hit by post-partum depression.  It is impossible to explain depression to someone who has never been clinically depressed.  People think it just means you're sad, that you need to be cheered up.  They think that if they do or say the right thing, you'll get better or maybe that you just need to snap out of it, pick yourself up, and stop feeling sorry for yourself.  They think that you can't be depressed if you can smile or laugh at a joke. But none of those things are true.  The truth is that every type of mental illness gets filtered through the personality traits, the experiences, the environment of the person affected by it, so it feels different to different people.
In my case, I'm normally a seriouusly type A personality, without even trying.  I don't sit idle.  I am engaged in some sort of project from the time I wake up until I'm ready to fall straight to sleep.  I have an extremely logical thought process. I plan, organize, problem-solve without effort.  I jump out of bed, shower, get dressed, and I don't just face my day; I attack it with the determination of a person who has a purpose for each step.
When depression hits me, the first thing that happens is my thought process slows down.  It is no less logical, but I have to think to solve problems and access information that would normally be automatic.  Unfortunately, the speed of my speech doesn't slow down quite as much, so my verbal fluency plummets.  It starts with adding fillers and leads to forgetting words.  It's very difficult to seem like a credible authority figure on any subject when you can't seem to access basic vocabulary when you'er trying to speak--you have the concept in your head but the word for it just won't come to your lips.  Before too long, people begin to doubt you and then you begin to doubt yourself.  It's all down hill from there.  When I'm sick (read: depressed. Yes, it is an illness and it affects people physically as well as mentally), I am exhausted...all...the...time--not just tired, but a level of lethargy that I never experience when I'm mentally well, not even when I'm sick with the flu.  I never feel completely awake.  There is a constant sense that I need to close my eyes, and I do.  Closing my eyes allows me to focus on what I'm thinking, but it doesn't exactly inspire confidence in the people I'm talking to.  When I'm sick, I eat excessively.  I lose all my self-control.  I'm quick to anger.  I'm anxious. I pick up compulsions like burrs in a field, and I absolutely, positively CAN  AT ALL.  I get it blown out at a hairdresser once a month and wear it in a pony tail.  It's funny, my straight hair looks much more tame than my unruly curls, and someone who didn't really know me might think that going to the salon is an indication that I'm taking an interest in my appearance.  The truth is that it means that I've given up on the idea that I'm going to be able to muster up the energy to wash it and comb it in the next two weeks...maybe even a month.  I start taking baths instead of showers because I just can't cope with the extra energy required to stand up.
  This post was supposed to be about my One Little Word project, and before I lose you, let me say that this is all connected.  I can feel myself getting better.  I won't be going off my medication any time soon, but I'm beginning to see glimpses of the person I used to be when I look in the mirror.  My focus on humility right now is all about allowing others to help me get back to the place where I can feel really healthy again.  I have to seek (and pay attention to) the advice of my mentors and friends, and, hopefully soon, I'll be me again...only better.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Simple Sketches #4

Today, we have a layout using another fabulous sketch by Melissa over at Simple Sketches . 
Isn't that just a great sketch?  If you don't think so, you should give it a chance.  I didn't know what I was going to do with it immediately, but after just a few minutes of flipping through my pictures and about half an hour of playing with my supplies, I ended up with one of my favorite pages in a long time.  Do you ever have one of those pages that you just love, and you think it says so much about you, and then everyone you show it to just doesn't get it?  This is one of those pages for me.  I keep getting asked why I would scrap a picture of my camera, but I think it says more about me than a selfie would.  Oh, well not everybody is going to get it all the time.  I love it, and that's what's important.
The more that I look at it, the more I love it.  I hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

In Progress: Alfred's Family History Project

I'm back from Florida, and I have to say that for the most part everything went according to plan.  On one side of the family, I photographed all of the albums on hand, digitizing about 5,000 pictures. That was his father's side, and we were staying at the house where all those albums were located, which gave me the luxury of getting up early and staying up late, so my work could be split up into several sessions.  When you photograph pictures to digitize them, it's important that you take the picture from directly above so that you don't skew the perspective of the photograph.  That isn't the most comfortable position, so it was nice to be able to do the work in a few different sessions.

His mother's side of the family was a different story for several reasons.  1)  The pictures were just in a box, so I had to arrange them out on a table before photographing them, which increased the time between each set of images.  2) I only had one day, so I had to get all the pictures I wanted as fast as I could (not to mention get them processed and numbered).  So, I only copied about 1/2 of all the photos that were available to me.  3) The light wasn't great, so the quality of some of the pictures wasn't as good as I would have liked (though I did shoot in RAW and JPEG so there was a bit that I could do to fix that). 4) I was shooting in the middle of the living room with the whole family around adding color commentary (VERY colorful commentary), which slowed me down a bit too.  All that said, I did still get about 1,500 pictures captured.

The next steps were mostly the same for both sides of the family.  I pulled all of the photos into Photoshop Elements.  Using the rectangular select tool and new layer via cut, I made each photograph in each file its own separate layer.  Once that was done, I used an action that made a separate file of each of my layers.  When all of the photos that I wanted to discuss with the family members were open in their own files (but not saved yet), I used the process multiple files function to name/number/and save all of the files to a new folder.

The interview was the easiest part of the whole process.  We just pulled the pictures up in windows file viewer and went through them one by one as I recorded the conversation on my phone using Smart Voice Recorder (which is the same app I use to do the voice overs for my process videos). That was the end of the in person portion of the project. In total, I interviewed his mother's side of the family (mother, aunt, grandmother) as we went through 200 photos and his father's side (grandmother only) on 300.

Next, I had to edit the photos for printing.  I really underestimated how difficult this part of the process would be.  All of the old photos are totally different aspect ratios, so it took quite a bit of time in photoshop to get them all onto a 4x6 canvas for printing (just to keep the cost of the project down, I only printed 4x6 photos, I might go back into the database someday and print out some pictures in different sizes, but this is good enough for now.
That's as far as I got before I came home.  I severely overestimated the amount of time that I would have other people to watch my kids, so I couldn't get anything else done before I got home, but I can't complain about so much progress.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Simple Sketches Layout: Part of the Family

There's a great new sketch up on the Simple Sketches Blog!
I have to admit that this one was a little bit of a challenge for me.  I'm not very good with working on a skew.  I ended up having to take apart my layout and reassemble the center straight up and down, and then tilt it.  Oh, well!  I really like how it came out.
It's all about our two puppies, and how they're more a part of the family than any dogs I've ever had.  I've never known any of my dog's birthdays before.  

I really encourage you to try out this sketch...especially if it's a little out of your comfort zone like me.  Share an in link to your layouts using the sketch over at Simple Sketches. I'm looking forward to seeing them!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Congratulations Melissa and Simple Sketches!

Congratulations to Melissa over at Simple Sketches for going live with her first sketch.  Here it is
Isn't it great?  I especially love the coffee cup distressing.  I'm so looking forward to using it on a layout when I'm back in town.  For now, hop over to the Simple Sketches blog and link up the layouts you make using Melissa's great sketch!