• "Oh, if I could only put things into words as I see them! Mr. Carpenter says, 'Strive, strive -- keep on. Words are your medium -- make them your slaves -- until they will say for you what you want them to say.' That is true, and I do try, but it seems to me there is something beyond words -- any words -- all words -- something that always escapes you when you try to grasp it -- yet leaves something in your hand which you wouldn't have had if you hadn't reached for it. ... I have written myself out for tonight, and am going to bed."
    - Lucy Maud Montgomery, Emily Climbs

    This is my place to "write myself out" -- sharing both my day-by-day thoughts and my artistic output. Thank you for visiting! - Carmen Pauls Orthner
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Project Life – Week 1, Jan. 1-8, 2012

Filed under Project Life 2012,Ramblings • Written by Carmen @ November 5, 2012

And here we start into the actual weekly documentation! :) My kit actually arrived the third week of January, but I had been enthusiastically storing memorabilia, taking photos and taking notes for my journaling, so it wasn’t too much trouble to get caught up. (Wish I could say that now — I have a lot of catching up to do with our summer photos. This blog sharing will help motivate me to get those pages done!)

This year started on a Sunday, and I’m running my weeks Monday to Sunday, so I just added New Year’s Day photos to the beginning of the week. I’m not sure how I’ll juggle the “short weeks” at the beginning and end of each year with future volumes of Project Life, but for this year it was okay. (On a technical note — today the snow in La Ronge was melting (!), but it was still really cold out on my deck, and it was getting toward late afternoon (ie. less light), so I decided to try taking the photos inside by the window. What do you think? Does the lighting look okay? I didn’t notice until I was editing these photos that I was in such a hurry to get the spread photo taken that two of the cards slid out of their pockets! Oops. I’ll be more careful next time.) I took a lot of photos on our weekend trip, and those ended up being my first insert — I just cut a Design C page protector in half, but Becky Higgins has this three-pocket look now with one of her new designs, if that interests you. :) I think I may add a tab on the edge to make the smaller-sized insert more obvious, as it seems to blend in too much in these photos…. Anyhow — here are some closer looks at the individual pages.

I really liked that Gilda Radner quote, and there was a good bit of “white space” on the postcard design for this title card, so I added it in. The photos include a post-midnight New Year’s Eve game of “Ticket to Ride: Europe” with our friends (and pastor couple) John and Timea, playdough on the Disney Princesses table Sara got for Christmas (I was aiming for a snail with my pink and green creation — there is a snail character in what was then Sara’s favourite DVD, “Babies Love Music”), John and Timea playing with Sara, and Bryan attempting to settle Sara for the night. I also journaled about my One Little Word for the year, which was “light”.

I want to get back in the habit of adding this sort of memorabilia, which to me is one of the nicest things about the pocket pages — just slip those bits in, and they are preserved as part of our lives instead of just landing in the recycling box. The recipe was actually scanned in and added to some digital paper, just because it was too big, but you can still see the egg stain on it. ;)

The photos here include a collage of images from a weekday at home, me admiring my new haircut, a hospital stay, and a visit with friends in Prince Albert, the city nearest to us (a 2.5-hour drive).

Isn’t that the best quote?! :D

I had some medical tests done that week, and ended up fainting — very strange experience. I had my husband take a photo with his Black Berry (good scrapbooker, right? — must stay dedicated to the cause… ;) ), and also saved my appointment card and the lid from the orange juice I had after my tests were done.

The friends we stayed with in P.A. were Wilna and Jaco Furstenberg — Wilna is a fairly well-known designer/instructor in the scrapbooking industry, and we got to know her and her family because they live fairly near us, and Wilna taught an on-line course I took. They are from South Africa, so it’s kind of neat to be posting these pictures today — we had our first call via Skype this morning with our new supervisor in Johannesburg. The little photo is of the Furstenbergs’ dogs, and then there’s a seasonal embellishment that happened to be the tag from Sara’s new pajamas.

Front and back of the insert with our weekend photos — we had some missions support-raising appointments in Saskatoon, and stayed with friends who used to live in La Ronge, and also shared a meal with another SIM couple and their kids.

Thanks for stopping by. :)

2012 in the books

Filed under Project Life 2012,Ramblings • Written by Carmen @ November 1, 2012

This has been a very, very full year for us, and Project Life has been a Godsend for me, by enabling/forcing me to pay attention to the good, cope with the bad, and celebrate so many of the big and little moments of our lives here. It’s a year that has not turned out as I anticipated — ie. I thought that by now, we would have moved to Toronto — but instead, I have been able to capture our last full year in La Ronge. Next year, we will be re-locating much farther away than we had ever dreamed: to Johannesburg, South Africa, where we will be serving as full-time missionaries with SIM (Serving In Mission) in the Region of Southern Africa office. I am very excited (and truthfully, more than a little nervous/scared…) to see what 2013 will look like for us.

With the year nearly over, I’ve decided that since I have been far more faithful with this Project Life approach than any of my previous “documentation attempts”, I will start at the beginning of my album, and share it with you. Since I don’t know any other local Project Lifers, I have derived a lot of inspiration from the many Project Life bloggers I’ve encountered, and I thought perhaps I could contribute a bit myself to the well of inspiration. I’d love to hear any feedback you want to share.

My goal is to share every other day from now through the end of December, and then in 2013, I will post once a week with either the current week’s pages or one very recent — most likely on Tuesdays or Wednesdays, depending on how organized I am! I run my weeks from Monday to Sunday to keep the weekends together, and Monday is generally a less busy day than the rest, so my aim will be to finish my pages by Monday night and photograph them on Tuesdays.

Okay — here we go. :)

Doubling up

Filed under Cards,Challenges,Fresh on Fridays,Layouts,Project Life 2012,Ramblings • Written by Carmen @ November 18, 2011

This past weekend was the big crop weekend at Cocoa Daisy, which is held twice a year (April and November) — and man, was it ever intense, and FUN. So much fun, in fact, that I didn’t end up taking a break from the festivities (and crafting!) on Friday, which was my original plan since I didn’t have anything really “fresh” to share earlier in the day. So, although I did post on Monday about Nat Kalbach’s ornament swap, I will consider this post to be two weeks worth of sharing. :) I’m hoping I will still be able to finish up one or two more projects based on the crop challenges, so you might even see a bonus post from me.

Maybe I’ll start, though, by sharing what’s freshest on my mind, and that’s that I’ve decided to try out Project Life for 2012. In 2009, I bought one of the original Project 365 (an earlier “incarnation” of the same product line by Becky Higgins) kits to do for 2010 — thinking that I would do it as a “photo a day” to have a record of my last months of pregnancy and most of Sara’s first year. I bought it “second hand” but unused, so it was already pre-assembled, and I actually did quite well with the “photo a day” part. I also journaled in bits and pieces, mostly in the “what does your day look like” thread on Willow Traders, but I never did get ANY of the journaling cards written because I let myself think I had to record every key detail on those cards or nothing at all. I also tried to “batch process” weeks worth of photos at one time, and it just didn’t work. There’s a part of me that still hopes I’ll be able to finish that album (it has photos printed for January through May, and all the memorabilia, notes, etc. are in a box in my closet), but sadly, I doubt it.

So, I know going into 2012 that I have to adopt a different strategy or it won’t work. There have been refinements to the product line — starting with the name change — to shift away from the calendar year specific/daily entries approach, and this coming year there are more page protector styles to allow for vertical photos, bigger memorabilia, etc., as well as new colour schemes. So, I liked that idea — and I also really liked what I’ve started seeing on various people’s blogs, which includes being more flexible/”forgiving” of yourself if you miss a day here and there, and including more of the “stuff” of life, little snippets of conversation, kids’ art, etc. — and even getting your family involved.

What sealed the deal for me, I think, was seeing how you can approach a week of your life (or even a month, if you prefer) as a single spread, in this very simple, slide-it-into-the-pockets-and-you’re-done album, and if you miss a day — so what, you’ve got a concise, beautifully presented portrait of this period of time. And then, if some weeks you want to take a more artsy approach to the spread, adding your own embellishments/doodads or patterned paper or inking or whatever techniques appeal to you, that’s great too — and you can add in extra pocket pages, or long journaling blocks, or an envelope of memorabilia.

I’ve enjoyed seeing Ali Edwards’ Project Life pages all year, and over the last couple of weeks I’ve been reading a number of other blogs and especially appreciated the detailed, “this is how I make it work” posts from people like Lisa Truesdell and Marcy Penner (fellow Canadian, and I’m guessing fellow Mennonite too). I’m totally cribbing Marcy’s “Project Life station”, using the baker’s rack I bought and put in our kitchen/dining area a few months ago. It’s become an overflow area for household papers, but I’m going to reclaim it for this project.

I justified the purchase of the materials as most of my Christmas gift from Bryan’s parents (who have us buy our own gifts with money they give us in advance), so I’m a bit disappointed that because of a “hiccup” (what does that mean, exactly?!), the Canadian distributor isn’t able to send out orders with the newest Project Life designs (Clementine and Cobalt) until mid-December — which means it won’t be here in time for the Orthners’ get-together on Dec. 10, and (with the Christmas shipping craziness) likely not even before we leave Dec. 22 for our time with my parents in Regina. But I’m still excited, and once I get a few (!) other things cleared off my house/craft project list, I will start setting up my Project Life station. :) Wheeeee!! I’m also planning another year-long project (One Little Word) for 2012, but I’ll talk about that some other time.

So… back to the Cocoa Daisy crop, and some project sharing! Perhaps I should adopt a philosophy of “what happens at the crop, stays at the crop” ;) but it’s all out there on a message board anyhow — so I will say that there was a lot of silliness and sharing of “cringe-worthy” experiences (mine involved a spruce beetle and a roomful of high-ranking politicians) and hot celebrity photos, a madcap (or so I’m told!) game of bingo, frenzied one-hour challenges (I tried the first one — almost got done in time, but not quite), goofy crop nametags (I even posed wearing mine), and some EXCELLENT dialogues with some of the scrapbooking/mixed media industry’s top names — the one with Julie Fei-Fan Balzer was my favourite. (And I even found out the back story on why she uses “milkcan” as her username — and it’s not just because that’s the name of the theatre company she founded.) There some great classes too, such as on stitching techniques and graffiti art, which I want to go back and read through, and try out the techniques.

The theme of the whole weekend was “Craft Fair”, and there were 20 different challenges from the Cocoa Daisy design team and guests (including Julie Balzer, Amy Tan (aka “Amy Tangerine”), Vicki Boutin and Ali Edwards), all using that theme as their jumping off point — like for example with “Jams and Jellies”, the challenge was to use one of the “fruit/veggie inspired” colour schemes for your layout. The challenges are still open, actually, until this Sunday night — so if you want to enter one or more of them, head over to Cocoa Daisy. :)

I completed five of the numbered challenges, which for me is amazing — Bryan was so sweet, and gave me Friday and Saturday (and part of Sunday, although we also attended church and had a great lunch, I made cupcakes since it’s was Bryan’s 41st birthday, and then had his brother and sister-in-law over for supper, cupcakes and a game of “Bonkers”) to just focus on my crafting. On Wednesday night, I stayed up WAY too late working on another of the challenges, and maybe I’ll get that done and shared later this weekend.

The first of the challenges I finished was a layout based on a sketch by Vicki Boutin, and I documented Sara’s 2nd Halloween. I even recycled the wrappers from my crop snacks — leftover Halloween candy. ;) The journaling reads: “For several days around Halloween 2011, it was a constant refrain around our house: ‘Connie. Connie. Connie.’ And truth be told, I was getting irritated, even a little jealous. I mean, I KNEW Sara liked her once-a-week babysitter, Connie Venn, but come on – surely being with Mama was okay, too?! I don’t know how it finally clicked. Maybe it was at the Parents and Tots get-together, when Lori Howe brought out orange-and-black treat bags for all the little kids (and, um, their moms…) to dig into and Sara started sampling the box of Smarties, or maybe when she was eagerly running to the door (even the next day) whenever the doorbell rang, so that she could give each person something out of the bowl…. Whenever it was, I finally clued in – yes, sometimes she wanted Connie, but most of the time, she just wanted CANDY. And (within reason!) I’m totally okay with that!”

I also tried out Ali Edwards’ challenge to “go big with your text”, for which I decided to haul out my acrylic paint, my ancient (and mostly unused) foam letter stamps and some smaller acrylic stamps, and try making some word art out of a quote from John Milton: “Grace was in all her steps, and heaven in her eye” (got an extra “was” in there by accident). I had been wanting to do a layout about Sara’s fascination with her shoes — especially these red ones that squeak when she walks — and this seemed like a good opportunity.

I tackled the “clothing” challenge next, which involved taking inspiration from one of the posted items of clothing, and using it to create a Christmas card. I used a picture of a long grey coat with wooden buttons and strips of coloured fabric to create this card. The candle in the “Merry and Bright” title was an attempt to cover up some problematic stamping (the “i” bent and smeared ink on my project), but I thought it worked out reasonably well. Here is the inspiration piece:

And my card:

As you can perhaps see in the background of that shot of my Christmas card, it has been snowing here, which made photographing these two remaining projects a challenge. The text on the black-and-white layout got smeared a bit by falling snow when I tried to photograph it on our deck, and the other layout was photographed on my crafting desk, and the lighting in my office is not the best for photographing. But that’s what I’ve got right now….

Anyhow, the black-and-white layout — which combines some of my reflections on what the word “church” means to me, and photos taken (for the most part) at our friends John and Timea Patterson’s induction as our pastor couple — was done in response to a challenge to use a photo of a black-and-white ceramic piece as our inspiration, using no other colours. Here is the piece that I used:

I took my title from a song by Carolyn Arends (here are the lyrics).

Journaling: “Church, to me, is a gathering together as believers (and those seeking, and those struggling, and those just wondering) to worship, work, learn and celebrate the fact that God is in His heaven and yet here among us as well. I’ve had the privilege to “do church” in many different settings – cathedral and lakeshore, in a salt mine once visited by Nicolaus Copernicus, in a school gym – and it all comes back to the same thing: we worship together.

The local church serves many roles. It is a place for teaching – a role played out in Sunday School classes, small group settings and the sanctuary. The church is a place to learn the foundations of faith, both theology and Bible stories, to gain an appreciation for the history of the Christian faith and to discover ways in which we can be stretched and deepen our faith.

The church is a place to work out the meaning of community, in relationships with people of every generation and background, some we like and some we don’t. The church is a starting point for discovering the meaning of a “social gospel”, in which good news means more than just the news of salvation, but a practical working out of that salvation here on earth – tending to the needs of the hurting of heart, mind and body.

The church is a place for honouring ritual and tradition – prayers of intercession, laying on of hands, baptisms, weddings, communion, the celebrations of the church year. The church is potluck suppers and libraries, games nights and prayer nights, potato sack races and Dixie Cups of ice cream served with little wooden spoons at summer picnics, Christmas pageants where a small, uncoordinated angel might accidentally knock over one of the pillars of heaven, farewell barbecues and graduation parties with streamers and balloons in the lobby in front of the sanctuary: in other words, the church shows us how to see God in all the activities of our daily lives, as well as in the most profound and extraordinary moments. The church is where we learn how to carry out the message of the cross: the vertical line to God, the horizontal line to one another.

And finally, the church is a place of “sending out” to the world – to proclaim the good news to our neighbours, whether they live next door or on the other side of the globe. And the role of the Christian is to drink deeply of it all, to learn and then become a teacher, to send and, as God wills, be sent. We are to participate in the life of our church, not just sit in a pew on Sunday morning and then slip out the door before anyone notices us. We are to serve according to our gifts, and be willing to test ourselves, to go beyond our “comfort zone” and see what God has for us to do.”

And then finally, I did a layout about me. This started out as my incomplete one-hour challenge layout, but it fit so neatly into the “home baked” challenge that all I had to add was some sparkly items (the white and red pearls), write the journaling and call it done. (The other requirements were something white, something red, something with dimension/texture, and answers to some questions about ourselves.)

Okay, that’s it for now. I may try to get some better photos of those last two layouts if the weather is decent. If you’ve gotten this far, I thank you — I think this is the longest blog post I’ve ever written, so I hope it makes up for my absence last week. This coming week I plan to get back to my December Daily preparations, and get to work on my ornament for the swap — I can’t believe December is nearly here already!! Thank goodness my Christmas shopping is 90 per cent done…. I’m hoping to find one or two more gifts at the local craft fair this weekend.

Cheers! (Oh, and happy Thanksgiving this coming week to my American friends.)

Fresh start

Filed under Cards,Fresh on Fridays,Layouts,Ramblings • Written by Carmen @ October 21, 2011

Hey there. I’m sorry that my blog has been so neglected these last few months — even though I enjoy so many blogs, I am sometimes at a loss to know what to write about on my own. I decided, today, though, to give regular blogging another go. Willow Traders — my on-line “home” — has a weekly blog hop, and I thought maybe I could commit to posting something crafty/creative once a week and linking up for the blog hop. If I can into a rhythm with that, maybe I’ll try posting more often.

So — consider this my inaugural weekly post. :) I hope I can do this!! Since the Willow Traders blog hops start on Fridays, that seems like a good day of the week to post. Since I like catchy titles (my journalistic background coming out there — headline writing was one of my jobs at the newspaper), I will call these posts “Fresh on Fridays”. :)

Okay — now where to start?! I have actually been doing a fair bit of scrapbooking/card-making/playing with my crafty supplies over the last couple of months. I was offered guest design spots with two kit clubs — Burlap and Buttercups for their September kit, and Sweet Peach Crop Shop for October — so that gave me the excuse to dedicate some serious time to scrapping when each kit arrived. I’ve also been participating in an on-line Get Organized Challenge educational series, hosted by Tiffany Spaulding from ScrapRack, and have actually developed some systems for HOW to organize my supplies. I’m not finished by any means, but maybe that process could be the subject of a future post. And at the end of September, my friend Megan and I went to Saskatoon for the inaugural Crop & Create event organized by Scrapbook and Cards Today magazine. I will share some photos (I didn’t take many — I know, I know — but there are a few, and I’m waiting for a few more from a new friend who took them because my camera batteries died) and stories of the event, my time with Megan and the projects I made, as a future post. There — now I have topics lined up, so no more “what do I write about?!” excuses for a while.

Since this is the FIRST “Fresh on Fridays” post, though, I will share my freshest stuff first. :) And that would be my projects for Sweet Peach! Corrie, the owner, actually had me lined up to work with the September kit, but something went wrong — we’re not sure where — and the kit never arrived. (I hope it’s not sitting in some UPS warehouse, and if it is, I hope someone finds it and sends it my way!!) So, no playing with the Amy Tangerine line from American Crafts or Jillibean Soup for me. :( BUT, Corrie decided give shipping a kit to La Ronge another shot, so I got the October “Sweet” kit to work with (there are two kits, “Sweet” and “Juicy”, every month), along with an embellishments add-on. I had to rush a bit because the kit arrived just before I had company coming (my parents came up for the Canadian Thanksgiving long weekend) and then we were going to be out of town for several days (the reasons may be another post altogether… though not one of these crafty Friday ones), so I had just Tuesday night and Wednesday to scrap! Thank goodness I have an understanding/flexible husband and a wonderful babysitter who took Sara a day earlier than usual! I got two of my four required projects finished before we left, and had made good headway on the other two, which I finished up on Tuesday.

So, so far Corrie has just posted my first two projects on her blog, so I’ll share those here as well, and put up some “sneaks” of the other two. First — a birthday card (you can click any of the pictures to see them bigger).

I used the blues, burlap and woodgrain letters to create a masculine, outdoorsy feeling card for my brother Curtis, who turned 33 (!!) on Oct. 18. I thought the “coffee filter” embellishment with the math questions worked well for a birthday card, with the “addition” of years. :) I stamped the Emerson quote on a piece of the packaging for the brads that came in the embellishment kit; might as well recycle, eh? :)

The second project was created partly as a way to showcase the photo shoot that our friend Lisa Friesen did for us on the Thanksgiving weekend — these were taken in a spot less than a five-minute walk behind her house, which is right on La Ronge Avenue, our main downtown street, so yes, we do live IN the woods! But I didn’t want the layout to be about the shoot itself, so instead I focused on a message I wanted to give Sara (who is napping right now…. I love that she is still pretty regular about her afternoon naps).

The journaling reads:
Sara, right now I have no idea where you will grow up – but wherever you go, I pray that you will remember that this was your first home – a small (under 8,000 in the area) town in northern Saskatchewan. It was built on moss-covered bedrock and swampy muskeg, with a single downtown street wandering along the shores of a vast, clear lake. You devoured wild blueberries, received tiny white leather moccasins as a baby gift from the chief of the Lac La Ronge Indian Band, played with beaver fur at the local trading post and moss in the forest, and traveled for hours to get to a Walmart. And sweet girl, I hope that you will also remember that these six adults were among those who loved you best, and who could think of no happier way to spend their Thanksgiving Day than with you. Photos taken Oct. 10, 2011.

To give the background cardstock more texture, I put it on some cracked pavement (ie. my driveway!) and used a sanding block to “emboss” it. I also embossed a border onto the focal photo with a Scor-Pal, which is a tool for scoring lines (usually for the fold on greeting cards), and then sanded the raised parts to let the white core show through. The top patterned paper reminded me of sky, and the leaves are on the ‘ground’ beneath us. With the kraft doilies, I used a mix of Glimmer Mist, Maya Mist and walnut ink to create some variegated colours that reminded me of autumn leaves.

And finally, here are the “sneak peeks” of my other two layouts, “My Cupcake Project” and “Re-upholster”. :)

Thanks for visiting. :)

Cards? Me? Yes, indeed!

Filed under Cards,Ramblings • Written by Carmen @ April 5, 2011

Something new for me this year is making cards, rather than going out and buying them for every occasion. Partly it’s to cut costs — I’ve already got the supplies, and now I have a set of pre-scored card blanks and envelopes that has made the process a lot easier — and it makes sense to do it this way. But I’ve started to really enjoy seeing what I can do with these little “canvases” to make something special for someone we care about.

I’m not “into it” enough (yet) to make a stockpile (right now I’m just making a card when it’s needed), or make cards to sell or give away as gift sets, but I am having a good time. :) And who knows — maybe I’ll start doing more, and start stockpiling sentiment stamps and subscribing to card-making magazines…. Okay, maybe I shouldn’t go there, if helping my financial bottom line is supposed to be part of the point of all this! Right now I’m using my scrapbooking stash, and that’s good enough for me. :) I have been pleased to discover that Sketch Support not only has card ideas, but uses card sketches for layouts and layout sketches for cards — very cool resource.

So far I’ve made two birthday cards (one for Sara and one for my nephew Haven, who will be 2 on April 10), a sympathy card (for our Early Childhood Intervention Program worker, who lost her husband last month), a thank you card (for my parents’ long-time neighbours, who sent an unexpected birthday gift for Sara), and a baby shower card, and right now I’m working on a card for my niece Quinn’s upcoming 5th (wow, already?!) birthday.

Here are a few pictures:

In scrapping-related news, I had a layout called “And Everywhere She Went” (about Sara and her stuffed toy Lambie) published in the Creating Keepsakes March/April 2011 issue, in the “Reader Gallery”. That was very encouraging, and gave me some additional incentive both to scrap and to clean up my crafting area. I really wish that I could hire a professional organizer who’s also a crafter to help me with this, but I can’t wait around for that — if I’m going to work on any crafting-related challenges over the next while, I need some space to work, and I REALLY need to get the stuff OFF my floor so that my 13-month-old doesn’t keep ripping up my magazines, grabbing random embellishments, and pouring her bottle of milk on my cardstock!

All right — I’m off to do some more card-making! :)

Making plans and leaving room

Filed under Ramblings • Written by Carmen @ January 24, 2011

It’s a new year, and I am hoping to see some changes around here — many of them internal, but hopefully the good that comes from that work will spill over into my external environment as well.

Since Christmas I have been very “up and down” emotionally. I talked to one of the doctors at our local clinic about how I’ve been feeling, and in addition to renewing my prescription for my depression meds, she also prescribed a Vitamin D regime. I had heard before that the lack of Vitamin D from sun exposure can be a contributor to winter blahs, but I didn’t think that was a major factor here, as we do get a lot of sunlight even in the winter — but I’m not actually OUT in the sunlight much at this time of year, because it’s so blasted cold, and especially with Sara, I don’t want to be out more than I have to be. We usually just a do a quick errand run during the week, and on Tuesday mornings we go to Parents and Tots at our church. Thursdays I have a breakfast and prayer date with my friend Timea, but that’s at 7:30 a.m. — well before the sun comes up at this time of year. I spend much of the day behind closed curtains, and now that Bryan and I are on a “no restaurants” plan for the next few months, I don’t even do the walk from the post office to the Java Shack that I enjoyed in the summer/fall. So — for the next week or so, I’ll be taking 4 Vitamin D pills (I believe they are 1,000 mg each) a day, and then going down to 1 a day, which is still more than I’ve been getting from my multivitamin (which, come to think of it, I’ve been forgetting to take… doh).

The house has been bothering me — I’ve been very slothful lately, and things have just been left where they landed, sometimes for days, even weeks at a stretch. I need to develop a system for dealing with that that isn’t obsessive but also keeps the house looking comfortably lived-in as opposed to a chaotic mess. I also want to work on my patience with Sara, who is certainly a contributor both to the mess and to the lack of time/energy to deal with it. She is both a treasure and a trial, sometimes at the same time, like when she is attempting to climb up my pants leg while I am doing something on the computer. I have decided not to apply for a job I was considering — I realized after much reflection that once we move, I will be working at least part-time and I will be away from her, and right now I just want to focus on being with her, at home.

This year I have chosen the word “play” as my “One Little Word” — my guiding principle for 2011. January has been a tough month for “playing”, largely due to my low energy and moodiness. When I think of “play”, there is both the connotation of not taking everything so seriously (task lists, mess, etc.), and yet I also think of play as being something children take very seriously — they are so intense and focused on their playtime, which is a time of both discovery and delight, of imagination hard at work. I want to keep both of those things in mind as I set out on the rest of this year. I am making plans, yes, but I also want to leave room, for making unexpected discoveries (the lovely moments of serendipity), and for time spent doing the very important work of playing — getting down on the floor (literally) with my daughter and her toys, being silly with my husband, playing board/card/computer games with friends and family (and not getting upset over wins or “losses”), reflecting on ideas (through writing) both for my own pleasure and for strengthening relationships with people I value (especially my mom), taking an interest in physical “re-creation”, deepening my prayer life through times of solitude and through work with a spiritual director, and most of all, getting messy and making mistakes and taking joy in what I can do with my art supplies.

So far this month, I have enjoyed giggle fests with my daughter, written the script for a faux documentary about our church in the year 2020, learned how to use my Wii Fit (I am getting a lot better at rhythm stepping!), attended two circuit training classes, played lots of Scarab Solitaire and Tropical Swaps on Mindjolt.com, listened to a randomly chosen CD (ie. I didn’t even look!) on my iPod, and managed to stitch on some buttons and glitter up a chipboard arrow (and much of my desk and floor) in the process of creating a layout called “Look at Frosty Go!”, about Sara taking her first steps on Christmas Day while wearing her snowman sleeper. I hope there will be much more playing ahead….

I am looking forward to attending the annual women’s retreat at Camp Kinasao in a couple of weeks — I missed it last year due to being 36+ weeks pregnant, and I really did miss it. It is a good time for playing — lots of laughter, bonding with friends new and old, praying, singing, doing crafts, photographing, reading, hot tubbing…. Love it. And now — off to work, since I do still need to do that! I’ve got some article assignments due in a couple of days, and my MIL is babysitting today, so I’ve got to get going on those.

Getting there…

Filed under Ramblings • Written by Carmen @ December 18, 2010

Well, I’m making progress with the journal, at least, if not anything else. I’ve added my daily thoughts for tonight and a bit of catch-up for Thursday, and done today’s prompt and three others for Journal Your Christmas. It turns out that the prompt for tomorrow is “letters to Santa”, and that means I’m actually ahead of the game for one day, thanks to my efforts (on Sara’s behalf, of course ;) ) earlier this week. So I’ll just have to do a daily thoughts entry for tomorrow, and see how far I get with the rest of my catch-up. We were hoping to do gift wrapping and/or tree decorating this evening, after Sara went to bed, but Bryan’s work commitment — which he’d hoped would only take half an hour — has him still at the office at 11:30 p.m. So — we’ll try again tomorrow. I guess that’s just what you do, sometimes.

Falling behind…

Filed under Ramblings • Written by Carmen @ December 14, 2010

Argh… I can’t believe it’s only two weeks in, and I still have so much catch-up to do — and that’s just for the journal!! I need to find some way to juggle baby responsibilities, home responsibilities, writing responsibilities AND Christmas prep responsibilities, along with getting a decent night’s sleep and other self-care. I feel like I’m not doing well at all. Maybe if I can get up earlier, use naptime better…? How do other moms do it? I’m not even working a day job, and I only have one child, and still I can’t seem to manage. As for the journal, I’ve only done 6 of Shimelle’s 14 prompts, and there will be another one tomorrow, and I’ve got daily journalling written for just 7 of the 14 days. Is this going to be yet another of my “failed” projects? I so hope not… :(

A respite for writing?

Filed under Ramblings • Written by Carmen @ December 9, 2010

I think I’ve gained myself a bit more time for writing…. My daughter’s car seat is in my office, where I brought it after she fell asleep on the way home from our weekly breakfast date/prayer time with my friend Timea this morning, and she played for a while in here as well after she woke up. I took a break to give her her lunch, and then for my own lunch with DH. But after DH left and she started rubbing her eyes, I put her in her crib. Well, she wasn’t having any of that — I always know it’s hopeless when she starts kicking the blankets, because moments later she’ll be bouncing around (her new nickname is Tigger — sometimes “Tiggress”!) and soon after that, wailing. So I decided I’d go get the mail a bit earlier than usual, and I put her in her jacket, put her in the seat and did up the straps — and she fell asleep again!! I’ve grabbed myself a Coke Zero and am trying to be “vewy vewy quiet” as I sit here typing.

It’s pretty nasty weather out there, so it’s not like I’m eager to go out until I have to, which will be when DH, Sara and I go to learn about the newly-revamped Weight Watchers program at 5:45. That gives me a couple of hours for writing — or five minutes, depending if and when my DD decides it’s time to wake up and have another meal. So I should get to it — but I thought, in light of the weather, the sweet baby sleeping beside me, and the fact that I have it up on my screen after DH found it for a friend of ours, that I would share the full lyrics to “In the Bleak Midwinter”, as opposed to the better known first and last lines. (And yes, I know Christ likely wasn’t born IN winter, and especially not in a snowy climate, but metaphorically at least, it’s very accurate — “earth stood hard as iron” and all that.)

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.

Our God, heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign.
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, Whom cherubim worship night and day,
Breastful of milk, and a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, Whom angels fall before,
The ox and ass and camel which adore.

Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
But His mother only, in her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the beloved with a kiss.

What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a wise man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him… give my heart.

ETA: Bah — spoke too soon. She woke up less than a minute after I pressed “publish” on this post. Guess it’s time to go make a bottle…


Filed under Ramblings • Written by Carmen @ December 7, 2010

December is getting away on me already. I’ve had great plans for writing all my day-to-day activity entries and my Journal Your Christmas prompt entries, cleaning the house, being the “perfect” mommy playing pattycake and peekaboo, finishing my long-overdue doctrinal paper, doing a daily Advent Bible study, drinking my water and tracking my food points every day, and of course all the lovely Christmas activities. So how am I doing?? Not so good…

Today has been a trying day, as I’ve attempted to get some of the terrible mess in my office/craft space cleared away, while dealing with a baby who wants constant attention today in particular. It has not worked out terribly well. I tend to get very absorbed when I’m working on a big project, and a curious, attention-hungry 9-month-old who loves chewing paper is not the ideal work companion. I did get some of the clean-up done, but forgot about the fact that we have an appraiser coming tomorrow to look at the house because we are increasing our mortgage and the mortgage company wants to be sure the house is worth as much as we need. (It was worth considerably more than that when another appraiser looked at it a few years ago for a home renovation loan, but the market is always fluctuating….) Baby girl did NOT want to go to sleep tonight, even though her only nap was about 30 minutes this afternoon while I was picking up some groceries (I used the stroller for me, and a hand-held shopping basket for the groceries)), and aside from a quick meal out (Chinese food), DH was at the office until 10 p.m. working on a response to a request for proposals for a set of videoconferencing units. I finally got Sara settled around 8:30 I think, after a supper of formula, applesauce and bananas, a bath, pj’s, an extra bottle, soother locating, extra playtime, and several attempts to get her to stay in the crib with her stuffies, blankie and lullaby CD, which were met with blanket kicking, bouncing around, and tearful wails because mommy wasn’t in the room with her (I was in the room next door, but of course she doesn’t understand that). Once Bryan got home, we gave most of the rooms a quick “lick and a promise”, and I’m just hoping he’s right that household clutter won’t be equated with lower house value…. Bah.

Anyhow, lots of writing to catch up on — I’m so hoping tomorrow goes better than today in that regard. My small prayer group is here tomorrow morning too, and then I think the rest of the day is mine — and DH should be able to come home at least at the end of the work day, if not earlier, and he doesn’t have to go out again until 8:30. Gah — just looked at the clock, and it’s 11:39 p.m., so I should sign off for now. Here’s to an improved mindset for the coming days, and more writing done!

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