Monday, December 18, 2006


John and Tiana are down in Chicago right now. Tiana has been in an MRI tube for the last 45 minutes or so. They sedated her but not with an IV this time (can you say thank God for small favors?), instead she got a cocktail and some gas to knock her out. It should take about 2 hours to do the full spinal MRI... John said he'll call once she's out and awake.

I'd kill for a cigarette right about now...

They're looking for lesions on her spine. I guess that occasionally, rarely, scoliosis is caused by spinal lesions. If she has lesions she'll still need surgery, but a different kind of surgery instead of the rod insertion.

Who's bright idea was it to quit smoking a month and a half before her surgery anyway...

The only way to see for sure if she has lesions or not is with an MRI, and getting the MRI has been a long drawn out process... The first scheduled MRI the administration of the hospital gave us incorrect NPO instructions, which resulted in Tiana becoming dehydrated. Because she was dehydrated they couldn't sedate her, and we had to reschedule. That one was a blessing in disguise though, we got so upset with the hospital and her orthopedic doctor that we asked her primary physician to refer her to Shriners. That has turned out to be a very good thing.

Just one...

The second MRI was scheduled at a different hospital, we had the correct NPO instructions, and the day of the appointment Tiana had a chest and head cold along with a 102 degree fever. Mission aborted we rescheduled again.

Not even a whole one...

On the date of the next MRI appointment we received 15 inches of snow. Not a good day for a drive to Chicago. Once again we made another appointment.

This time it's gone off with only a small hitch or two. Hopefully it will be over soon and we can add another notch to our belts. One more milestone that we made it though, one more step to all of this being over and done with.

March can't some soon enough for me...

Friday, December 15, 2006

Another Smilebox

I'm having way more fun than I know I'm allowed to have, playing with this Smilebox software.

Here's another one from our Auburn trip last fall.

If you haven't already done so, go download the software. It's free and it's a lot of fun to use.

I'm not kidding... Go do it! :)

Have a great day!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Just for Fun

Making Memories has come out with a fun photo sharing program that creates nifty little digital scrapbooks that can be saved, emailed, or posted to your blog. Click on the picture below to see a fun little scrapbook I put together for the Holiday.

Have fun making your own!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Anxious Thoughts...

I really shouldn't be posting to my blog. I have so many other things that I should be doing instead. I'm way behind, and truthfully I feel pretty guilty that I'm sitting here typing instead of doing real work. I have some junk in my head that I need to get rid of though, and this is as good a place as any to dump it.

I had a small anxiety attack last night, but considering the haze of medication it had to work its way through, it must have actually been a pretty major one. I've only had a couple since I started the meds, they feel different than they used to now, but they're no more pleasant then they were before. However, before the medication I never quite knew what I was really panicking about, I was nervous all of the time, so it all kind of blended together. Now I have to be pretty upset to have an actual anxiety attack, so I usually know what's causing it.

So what's on my mind? What has me feeling like the world is out to get me? I keep looking at the calendar. In two days it will be December 15th. On January 15th my baby girl will check into the hospital, and in 34 days they'll cut her open from the base of her neck to the small of her back in an attempt to realign her screwed up spine.

I'm so very frightened, I can't even begin to tell you...

I once said that I would tell Tiana's story from the beginning. I tried; I started writing it, but found that it was nearly impossible to do. There's so much pain, sadness, joy and love packed into the first few years of her life, that it's too much for an amateur like me to be able to express with the written word.

Suffice it to say that I was once told (by several people) that Tiana was my punishment for a very public sin (I won't call it a mistake) I committed. They said that God made her imperfect to punish me for the wrongs that I had done.

I thank God every day for his beautiful punishment.

Tiana is a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day. She's hope for the future in a world gone terribly wrong. She happiness, compassion, and love all bundled up into one little package. I don't know how I've managed to raise a child the likes of her. Honestly, I don't really think it's any super parenting skills on my part. I think she was born like that, a beautiful spirit that for some reason God trusted me to take care of.

I'm getting ahead of myself though... What makes her so special? It's kind of hard to describe, you'd have to meet her to really understand. I have four children, I love them all equally, and they are all beautiful and special in their own way. Tiana is no different than her brother or sisters, yet she is also very different...

Tiana has never met anyone in her life who didn't become an instant friend. She has a beautiful smile that engulfs her whole face, and a sparkling giggle that's always ready to bubble up to her lips. She's not happy all of the time, but she's never down for very long. She's very empathetic, and is filled with compassion for others. Even as a small child she always thought of others before herself. When most kids are going through the awful selfish period of the terrible twos, Tiana was giving away her toys to strangers just to make them smile. I think part of her compassion stems from the problems she's faced in her own life, but I also think that part of it is just who she is.

Having Tiana in my life has made me grow up, become a responsible person, and open my eyes to the world around me. The joy she's brought to our family has been immeasurable, especially because the joy came out of a particularly difficult time in our lives. She is a precious gift, and her physical problems have only made her more special.

She's not my punishment from God, but perhaps imagining my life without her is...

Because that's what this all comes down to... Fear... Fear that the unmentionable will happen; fear that a cruel twist of fate will take away the precious gift I never deserved to have in the first place.

I don't deserve her, I know that... I've done terrible things in my life, I've hurt countless people, I'm selfish, and just an overall crappy person. Yet somehow I managed to catch a hold of a rainbow. My terrible crappy life is filled with an indescribable beauty, and I live in fear that the powers that be are going to realize I have it and take it away because it's not meant to be mine. Then what will my life be like when all of the color is gone?

That's my punishment. That's my anxiety.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Quick and easy Christmas ornaments

I had some fun making ornaments over the weekend. I was originally going to make some CD ornaments, but Patti gave me a link to instructions for these ball ornaments, and I was hooked.

To give credit where credit is due, the original instructions came from Heidi's blog: Check it out, she has a lot of great projects there!

Never one to leave well enough alone, I changed the directions around a little bit though. So I'll give you my version, and you can see which works best for you.

Glitter Ornament
Clear Glass Ornament
Inks - re-inkers, alcohol inks, or posh rainbow sponge inks
Hair Spray
Fine Silver or White Glitter
Disposable Cup
Thin Metal Charm
Metal file
Craft Glue


1. Pull the cap off the ornament, and drop in 3-5 drops of ink. Add about 1/4 teaspoon of hairspray, and swish around the inside of the ornament until it is completely covered with ink.

2. Turn the ornament upside down over the disposable cup and let the ink drain out for 10-15 minutes. Tap the rim of the ornament onto a folded paper towel to remove any excess ink before moving onto the next step.

3. Dump about a teaspoon of glitter (you may need to add more depending on your coverage) into the ornament, and place your finger over the opening. Shake until the inside is completely covered with glitter.

4. Dump any excess glitter out into a clean disposable cup. You can re-use this glitter later if desired.

5. Using your hands, gently bend a thin metal charm to fit the contours of the ornament. Heating the metal up a bit between your palms will make it bend a bit easier. Once you have done that, use a pair of pliers to break off the hang tab by bending it gently back and forth. File off any rough edges with a metal file. You can paint your charm if desired, ink it with alcohol inks, or leave it plain.

6. With a strong adhesive, glue your charm to the front of your ornament. Allow to dry completely.

That's it! They're a piece of cake to make, so easy my four year old made one with minimal help from me.

Have fun!

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

This and that...

I'll put headings in here, so that those of you who don't care to hear about snake news can easily skip right over it. :)

Kauket (aka Ms. Snakey-Poo):

Kauket has been eating really well since we finally got her to eat a live pinkie awhile back. The only problem is, she will only eat live food. This is an issue for several reasons:

  1. Live pinkies are really hard to come by. We have to get them from our breeder who lives about an hour north of us. You can purchase adult feeder mice from a pet store, but Kauket is still smaller than a magic marker, so she's not big enough to eat adult prey yet.
  2. Live prey can actually hurt a snake. Seems hard to believe, I know, but adult mice have teeth and claws, and if they're upset enough they can gouge out a snake's eyes. Not really something you want to see happen to your lovely pet.
  3. I just don't want to feed her live mice. I know it's a natural process and all that, blah, blah, blah... It still squicks me out. Did you know that a pinkie mouse who's no bigger than a dime can scream loud enough to be heard 20 feet away when a predator grabs it? It's disturbing to be completely honest. I'd much rather feed her something that can no longer object to being eaten.

So off and on we've presented her with frozen pinkies, only to have her literally turn up her nose at the offering and slither away. Who knew snakes could be so pretentious?

Well, between the snowstorm last week and our breeder's love of hunting (what is up with that Chad?), it's been a little over 2 weeks since Kauket has eaten. She was starting to show that she was not liking the starvation diet the other day when she began striking at her own reflection in the glass of the tank (I never said that any of my pets were smart). Watching her do this we thought that it might be a good time to try a frozen pinkie again. So off John went to get another "Gourmet Rodent" from the pet store, and we tried once again.

Once again, she snubbed the food. Picky, picky, picky, she's starting to act like one of my kids. Well the breeder had told John to smack her around with the thawed pinkie to try and upset her enough to strike at the food (I know it sounds abusive, but sometimes you need to use tough love on your kids), so he did just that, and after about 10 minutes of being whacked in the face with a dead mouse, she finally got mad enough to eat it.

YAY! No more pinkie squeals! Thank heaven for small favors.

The Cuttlebug:

I'm loving my Cuttlebug! I had a couple of people ask me about some of the techniques I'm doing with it, so I thought that this would be a good place to explain them (rather than in the comment section of my ASB gallery).

First off is the embossing folders...

On this money card Sue asked how I managed to isolate the saying from the rest of the saying in the A2 sized embossing folder.

The truth is... I didn't. :D

For this card I used one of the small 4 packs of embossing folders. It's the "Congrats" set, and it has 4 small folders with different congratulatory sayings in it. I found that I can place the small embossing folders on a portion of a larger piece of cardstock, run it through the Cuttlebug, and all that gets embossed is the part that's supposed to be embossed. It doesn't leave a residual line where the folder hits the cardstock, which is really nice. So it expands the useability of the embossing folders even more, in my opinion.

The next thing that I've been asked about is embossing with brass stencils, Fiskar's texture plates, and other different things, and the answer is: YES, you can! I took some old computer mouse pads, three to be exact, in different thicknesses. Then I cut them all down so that they would fit through the Cuttlebug. Now whenever I want to emboss something that's not specifically for the Cuttlebug I use the A and C plates, along with my mouse pad embossing cushions to build a sandwich that fits into the machine.

The sandwich should be built with the A pad on the bottom, the plate or stencil next, cardstock or paper on top of the stencil, mouse pad embossing mats, and last but not least the C plate finishes off your embossing sandwich. It should be difficult to turn the crank to feed it though, but not impossible. That's how you know you have the right thickness.

It works really well, and you're going to be embossing all sorts of fun stuff before you know it. Try bits of lace, or pieces of ric-rak; punched pieces of cardstock, or chipboard shapes make fun embossing tools as well. Look around your house, and I'm sure your imagination will take off! :)

Have a great day!

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Because it's this or work...

Did I mention I quit smoking?

Today has really been the first day since I quit that I've been able to sit at the computer for any length of time without feeling the need to claw my own eyes out. The problem with being able to get back on the computer is that I have a weeks worth of work waiting for me, and the thing about work is it makes me want to smoke. It's a vicious circle really...

So I'm playing with my blog instead. At least this way I can say I was productive today. I don't have to say exactly what it was I accomplished. lol

I didn't stamp a whole lot over the last two months... I made some projects for workshops, but other than that I didn't have a lot of interest in my hobby. One of the projects we did for a workshop actually turned out pretty cute (especially considering I was in a creative wasteland at the time). It was a pretty involved project, a little mini scrapbook, but my stampers can handle it. We spent a couple hours at the workshop working on our only project, and my stampers got to exercise their creativity a bit because I let them pick out their own embellishments.

Here's a picture of the cover:

The cool thing about this little book is that it's made out of just 2 pieces of 12" x 12" cardstock. A white or cream piece makes all of the pages, and a colored piece makes the cover, the photo mats, and all of the little inserts that go inside.

All you need to embellish is a few scraps of coordinating papers, and you're good to go.

It's a cute little project, and if you're a Blue Heaven member on ASB, I'll be posting step by step directions for the project there in the upcoming months.

My desire to stamp is just starting to come back, finally, and I managed to catch up a bit with some projects for Donna's web page. ( - great die cuts at awesome prices!) I'm on her design team, but unfortunately I'd fallen behind while I was in my slump.

My favorite that I made is this CD holder:

It's so simple it's scary, there's no stamping at all on it. Yet I love the clean lines, and the simplicity. I'm going to make an altered CD ornament to place inside and use it as a gift for the holidays. I'll post a picture of the ornament once I get it done.

I am hoping to get some stamping done this evening, but my hopes are usually laid to waste anytime I ever try to plan it. If I do get something made, I'll be sure to share (if it's not too pitifully ugly that is. lol)

Have a good night!

Where to start...

Like I said... So much stuff has been going on in my life that I've barely been able to keep up with it. I haven't really kept up with it to be completely honest. I'm behind... Way behind... So what am I doing here blogging instead of doing productive work? Why, procrastinating of course.

So I'll start with Tiana, and I'll give you the brief version since you must be living under a rock if you haven't already heard me whine about it.

Tiana went to Shriners, they found that the curve in her back had progressed an additional 7 degrees since her x-ray a month and a half before. Not good! The only answer left to halt the progression of her scoliosis, and correct her spine, is surgery.

In January she'll have two rods inserted into her back, one on each side of her spine. The rods are called "grow rods." Tiana is still really small in the upper half of her body, and so these rods will allow her to keep growing for a few more years. Every six months or so she'll have to go in for minor surgery to have the rods adjusted to compensate for her growth. Then, in two to three years they will fuse her spine and the correction will be permanent.

How am I dealing with all of this? Much better now that I'm on anti-anxiety medication, thanks. LOL

It was pretty bad at first... The risks of surgery are paralysis and life threatening infections, among other things. It's terrifying to have to expose your child to that. The flip side is worse though, if her back isn't corrected she'll have early onset heart disease, and breathing problems all of her life, which will be shortened considerably because of the medical conditions brought on by her scoliosis. So we really don't have much of a choice at all.

Contemplate it for awhile for your own child though, and I assure you that you'll go a little bit insane. I felt like I was sending my baby out to go play in traffic. It didn't matter that they assured me that "all things considered," the surgical risks were very low. This is major surgery people... On her spine! You know, where all of those important nerves are!

Fortunately, I began taking the anti-anxiety medication before Tiana went to Shriners, so after a week or so of mental torture, the meds kicked in and I'm feeling a little more optimistic now.

So why am I taking anti-anxiety meds I hear you asking? Because I'm dying.

No, not really...

Its hard to explain to someone who's never dealt with anxiety, but I'll try...

Either I'm going to die, or someone whom I love very much is going to die. I know this with all of my heart and soul. It may not be today, it may not be tomorrow, but it will be soon, and when it happens, I'm going to go crazy because I won't be able to deal with it. How do I know that I'm going to be struck with some fatal form of cancer, or that one of my lovely children is going to be hit by a car, or fall down the stairs at school? Because I'm me. My luck has been really good lately, so I know that there's something just waiting and lurking around the corner. When I least expect it, it's going to jump out and slam me. So if I think about it all of the time, if I worry and obsess, it can never catch me unaware.

So I think about it all of the time, I prepare myself for every bad thing that could happen, imagining the worst things that could possibly happen so that I can prepare myself. Having a very fertile imagination that's a torment in and of itself, let me tell you. Thinking about it all of the time is stressing me out though, my body is very tense and soon starts to rebel at all of the stress... My throat feels like it's closing in on itself, I have chest pain, all of my joints hurt, and I'm tired all of the time but I can't sleep because I'm too busy obsessing to rest.

Do these aches and pains serve as a wake up call for your poor insane friend? NO! Instead I'm sure that the chest pain is lung cancer, my tight throat is some form of throat cancer, and my anxiety intensifies.

Do you have a picture in your head yet?

"Why don't you go to a doctor and have your fears put to rest?" I'm sure I hear you asking... Because if I go to a doctor he's going to tell me how very sick I am, and then I'd more than likely have a breakdown (I know you're seeing the irony LOL).

I knew I was having problems with anxiety, but knowing wasn't making my problems go away unfortunately. Fortunately I do have a wonderful doctor. When I finally went in (for an allergy; you didn't really think I'd make an appointment for my anxiety did you? lol) and mentioned I was having some problems dealing with life, he was very kind, and didn't call me a nut , nor did he send me to see a shrink (which I wouldn't have done anyway). He just let me know that I was not all that abnormal, and that in some people a traumatic (have I mentioned that John almost died a year ago this week?) event can trigger a serotonin imbalance. In some people it manifests as depression, in others, anxiety. So I just need to reset the serotonin processors in my brain, and then I'll be back to my normal, lovable, unmedicated self (no comments John) in about a year.

Now those of you who have dealt with anxiety are all nodding your heads. Your anxiety may not have manifested in the same way mine did, but you know those feelings of terror and helplessness as you watch your world spin out of control. Those of you who are lucky enough not to have ever dealt with this in your life, just think I'm crazy. LOL That's ok, I'm dealing with this now, and I don't mind if people think I'm crazy. The important thing is that if you're dealing with this, or something similar. Get help! I can't stress that enough. I don't know why I waited so long. There's no shame in asking for help so that you can learn to control it on your own. You'll feel so much better when all is said and done.

So those are the big things that have been going on in my life the last couple of months. Nothing too entertaining or amusing (though as I look back I'm beginning to see the humor in the anxiety), but just real life junk.

You know how it is...

Long Time, New Digs...

OK, yea... It's been a really long time since I've updated, and a lot has happened...

  • Tiana's been to Shriner's; it wasn't good news.
  • I've started all sorts of fun medication, and I quit smoking.
  • There's 15 inches of snow on the ground outside of my house.

And a bunch of other things that I neglected to write about... I'm sorry, but I told you that I'm not good about keeping up with these things.

The more immediate big news is... I moved the blog.

I decided that Bravenet wasn't for me. I just didn't care for their layout interface. I'd been playing around with Blogger, and really liked the look of the pages, and the tools they provide. so I moved everything over here.

So now that I'm in my happy new home, I'll try and get you caught up on my life, and be a little better about making posts. I'll try anyway.

Have a great day!

Saturday, October 7, 2006

A snake by any other name...

Ms. Snakey-poo (who’s currently trying to find a way to escape her cage—good luck with that) finally has a name. So which of the aforementioned names did we decide upon? None of them.

Since she kept her dinner in her stomach, where it belongs, I decided the time had come today to make a decision; or at least narrow down the field. I wasn’t terribly keen on any of the names that were in the running, so I went on a hunt looking for a name that was more suitable. Something exotic and colorful, a name that wouldn’t sound as if it were intended for a pampered cat, a cuddly puppy, or worst of all a pet hamster.

I had found the Ancient Egyptian name Kepi (meaning tempest) before, which I thought was on the right track, so I started my search looking through the Egyptian pantheon…

I have an insatiable interest in Egyptology. The lure of digging in the hot Egyptian sands is what led me to pursue a degree in Anthropology and Archaeology. Of course I think every Anthropology student has a love of everything Ancient Egyptian, it doesn’t take a student long, however, to learn that it’s nearly impossible to get a position working on an Egyptian dig. So dreams and desires confront reality, and new ones are formed. In my case, when I’m lucky enough to get back to school, I’ll pursue a career as a Biological Archaeologist, and study human remains found on dig sites, and if I’m really lucky those sites will be located in Mexico and South America. So dreams change, but the love remains, and Egypt will always hold a place in my heart.

Anyway, back to snake names… The Ancient Egyptians had more gods and goddesses than you could possibly imagine. They had a deity for every animal, emotion, career, and occasion. Part of the reason was because their empire lasted a very long time, and mythology grows with the civilization it’s attached to. Another reason for the plethora of deities was that any time the Ancient Egyptians conquered another nation, in order to smooth the transition and prevent unrest and upheaval, they just added that nation’s deities to their own pantheon, associating some with established Egyptian deities that had similar mythology, but in a lot of cases they just added the new god or goddess to the ever expanding list. People could also become gods themselves, Pharaohs and their wives were living gods on earth, but priests and priestesses could also obtain that status as well. Take approximately 5000 years of stacking up deities in this manner, and well… Let’s just say the heavens are full at night.

So I knew that if I searched for “Egyptian,” “snake,” and “goddess” I’d find at least one name to add to the list. So I did just that and the first site on the list provided this little blurb:

Pay dirt! Four Egyptian goddess names to choose from with just one mouse click. So I thought about the names and picked the one that I thought best suited my slinky little nocturnal baby.

Now I decided to circumvent the inevitable debate (argument) with my two oldest children and name her without their agreement. She’s my snake after all, and I don’t feel like waiting until they come back home on Monday only to have them boo and hiss at my choice, and ultimately draw out the snake’s naming even longer because none of us can agree. So instead I made a sticky note, and stuck it to the snake’s tank for them to read when they get home. It says:

I’m the Egyptian primeval snake goddess of darkness.
My name is Kauket
Now go ahead and complain to your mother.

It won’t do them any good though, what’s done is done.

Take care,

Thursday, October 5, 2006

She ate! WOOHOO!!

The snake finally ate, which is a big relief. She hadn’t eaten since the first week in September, and the breeder just told us that we could try for another week before he’d have to take her back and try to force feed her (which can be harmful to the snake). In the last two weeks I’ve committed atrocities against frozen pinkie mice in an attempt to get her to eat that will make me feel unclean for years to come. It was all for the greater good though, the means achieved the ends, and that’s all that matters, right? Right?!? Please tell me that having to wash mouse guts out of my jeans was just a small price to pay!

Anyway, now she just needs to digest for a couple of days without regurgitating her dinner (which is just a polite way of saying I hope she don’t puke), and then we’re home free.

So I can name her now… No, she still doesn’t have a name. I was going to name her right away, but when she stubbornly refused to eat I decided to wait. Naming a pet makes them an official family member. You can’t give something a name and then return them, it’s just not done. With the fear of losing her, I didn’t want to get any more attached than I had to.

Do you think I’m cynical? I’m not; I have the softest heart when it comes to animals. Remember, I cried for two days when the first snake ran away. When you’re that emotional you have to put up defenses when the situation warrants or your heart gets torn up on a regular basis. It’s not fun to be depressed over a baby snake, people think you’re crazy, and secretly you agree with them.

What was I talking about? Oh, snake names…

So CJ likes Lilith, Alexi suggested Persephone (Is that how it’s spelled? I can’t name a snake a name I can’t spell), I like Kepi which is an ancient Egyptian name meaning tempest. Someone suggested Carmine, which is under consideration, and Autumn got thrown out (Sorry Patti but Jenna’s godmother’s name is Autumn and I don’t think she’d appreciate her namesake), and there are some others that are being bandied about. It will take awhile; this family can never reach a decision quickly or quietly.

So anyway, now that I’ve filled you in on the snake news, you’re probably wondering why I haven’t posted to my blog in a week. Because I’m BUSY! What, don’t you have a life of your own? Sorry, I’m just kidding (I’m just flattering myself in believing that anyone’s noticed).

I have been working a lot though, I have an art gallery deadline coming up pretty quickly, I’m still working on materials for the dentists, a scheduled workshop is right around the corner, I’m way behind with ASB maintenance, and next week Tiana goes to Shriner’s hospital for her first visit, so I’m mentally preparing myself for that.

For those of you who don’t know about Tiana, I’ll share her story soon. She’s actually one of the reasons I decided to start a blog, because I want to be able to chronicle the walk she has ahead of her. So I’ll probably write her story after we get back from Shriner’s, and I promise I’ll start from the beginning.

Other than that, not a lot has been going on that is in any way interesting or entertaining. If something does happen though, you’ll be the first to know.

Have a good night!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Gourmet Rodents…

When we first got the snake, our breeder gave us a supply of frozen pinkie mice to feed her. Well, we went through them a little quicker than anticipated with setting traps for the snake who’s currently at large, and then with trying to get the other snake to eat. So John had to run to the pet store and get some frozen pinkies the other night.

Purchasing frozen mice is a first for our family, didn’t even know they were available until I got a snake. I didn’t know how they would be packaged, if they would be in a freezer where you could just grab them, or if employee assistance would be required in obtaining them.

So I sent John to the store with instructions to “Just ask someone who works there” and this is what he brought home:

5 individually packaged “Gourmet Rodents.”

My knee jerk reaction was to say “Hunny, you didn’t have to spend the extra money to get gourmet food, she’s a snake and doesn’t even chew. How refined can her palate be?” But I suppressed the impulse.

Gourmet Rodents… Perhaps I’m missing something, and people are dining in fancy French restaurants eating frog’s legs, snails and pinkie mice. It seems to be an oxymoron though, along the lines of “Military Intelligence,” and “Jumbo Shrimp.”
Ok now, apart from the fact that it’s rather amusing, I think it’s a little scary that manufactures of pet products feel the need to brand their items to appeal to the pet owners. They put food coloring in cat and dog foods, not so that the cat or dog will think it’s more appetizing, they can’t see in color, but so the human on the other end of the leash will think it looks good. I had a cat once that was allergic to the red dye added to most cat foods, he would yak any food products that contained it immediately after eating. Do you know how difficult (and expensive) it was to find food without this non-essential ingredient?

So, let me clue you in here Mr. or Ms. Pet food maker (like any one who could make a difference is reading this); no matter what you call it, a dead, frozen hairless mouse in not going to be appealing to me in any way, shape, or form! My snake needs it to live; I’m going to buy it no matter how it’s packaged or what it’s named.
What I find even scarier however, is the little note on the back of the package of Gourmet Rodents:

Need I say more?

Ok, off my soapbox!
Have a great day!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Just a day in the life...

I have some pictures to share… These are the pictures that I’ll use on the scrapbook page I talked about the other day.

Corydon W. S.

Corydon J. M.
With a 1937 Supercharged Convertible Cord

I don’t have too many pictures of Cord (the elder); this is one my mom gave me after CJ was born. Yes, there’s someone else in the picture with him. That’s Irene, his wife, and I’ll talk about her some other time I’m sure.

So, on to more mundane things…
I tried feeding the snake again last night, after two days of leaving her in solitude, but she’s still not going for it. I almost had her at one point, but she was distracted by something and shied away. I’ll leave her alone for a couple more days now and then try again.

I don’t know what I have planned for today. I should clean the house, but what fun is that. Perhaps some stamping instead. I need to make projects for a workshop next month. The last couple of workshops I’ve had, I waited until the last minute to put the projects together, and that’s a bad habit to get into. So I should really make an effort to get my act together. I want to make some Halloween things using the October Stamp of the Month, which is too cute for words, but I’m not quite sure what to do yet. Maybe some treat bags or something. I’ll have to look around and see if there’s anything fun I can case.

I did make a card yesterday. I was trying to come up with a card for a swap I’m in. I think the card turned out pretty good, but it has paper pieced letters in it, and the thought of cutting out 100 letters for a swap made me want to go play in traffic, so I’ll have to come up with something else. I’m just not good at making quick and easy cards, which means I’m also not good at big swaps. That’s why I usually only do 5 for 5 swaps.

Do you love those letters? I just got that set thanks to a fellow Angel, and I’m totally in love! I’d marry it and have its lowercase babies if I hadn’t already found the perfect man.

I’ve noticed that there are two kinds of sets I buy… There are the sets that I see and I like the design so I get them, but then once they get here I’m not quite sure what to do with them. I cut them out and look at them for awhile, and then I put them away and forget I have them. Sometimes they make it back out onto my desk and get used, but I’ll admit to having plenty of sets that have never seen an ink pad.

Then there are the sets that leap right off the page, grab me, and shake me. As soon as I see that black and white line drawing, pictures of completed projects start parading through my head. The Alpha Grunge set is one of those. This set is perfect for so many things… Scrapbook titles, monogram cards, it’s a great set for paper piecing, or just doodling on the insides of the letters.

Ok, I need to go get something done. John’s on the road today, so we can’t IM each other. That means I need to take a computer free day and catch up on the rest of my life.

Have a good one!

Monday, September 25, 2006

What's in a name...

My son and I are making a scrapbook of our recent trip to Auburn Indiana. He’s taken up a recent interest in stamping, and since I don’t find stamping a more feminine art than oil painting, I’m encouraging his new hobby. Since scrap booking and stamping walk hand in hand, it’s only natural that one would follow the other.

He’s asked that I assemble the scrapbook with his advice and consultation on colors and layouts. He wants the book to be something he’ll cherish for the rest of his life, not an amateur first attempt, so the two of us will create it together.

Before I move on, let me give you a brief synopsis of our trip and the reason we embarked on it. CJ’s given name is Corydon (core-ah-dun), and sometimes he’s also called Cord. The name has a special meaning for me, but as of yet he’s been unable to relate to it. Until recently that is, when he discovered there was a car made many, many years ago called a Cord. The factory that made these cars was located in Auburn Indiana, and you can still visit there and see the antique Cords, Auburns, and Dussenburgs that were made in that very building.

Every year there’s a big festival and auto show on Labor Day weekend, which is also (often) CJ’s birthday. So this year we took a trip and spent a weekend attaching some history and meaning to CJ’s name. He bought a shirt that said “Cord” over the pocket, talked to the owners of countless antique autos, and developed a sense of pride in a name that had never meant anything to him until now. So it was a good and memorable trip, and also one that will probably become a family tradition in the future.

So now back to the scrapbook… As I said before, the name Corydon has a special meaning for me. It’s not the name of a car, but of a person; a man who had a significant impact on my life. I’m hoping that CJ may allow me to hijack a page of his scrapbook to say a few words of my own. I’ve been thinking about what I’d like to say, forming the story in my mind over the last few days, and I’d like to share it here… Just in case it never makes it into the book…

Corydon… There are few names that warm my heart like the sound of that one, and none that fill my soul with the same flood of memories that cannot be channeled, but must be left to overflow the dam like the force of nature they are. The name brings back the sound of a robin singing on a warm summer day, the smell of Lilies of the Valley, the feel of the bark from a crabapple tree under my palms, and the sight of an old weathered face filled with kindness.

He was everything a grandfather should be, for none of the same reasons. He didn’t love me out of some sense of family obligation, or shared DNA. He loved me because I was me, and that was the only reason he needed. I once wistfully voiced the wish that he was my grandpa, and he told me that what we had was better, because we chose to love one another.

He was just the old man across the street, but you already know that. You’ve seen the house I grew up in, as well as the house across the gravelly street that I crossed every day for the first ten years of my life. I crossed in bare feet when it was baking hot in the summer, in snow boots when it was slippery with ice; I crossed it every day to spend my time with an old man who loved me just because I was me.

Never once did he ever turn me away, he was never too busy, too tired, or too important to spend his time with a little girl. He was kind when I was obnoxious and patient when I was slow. He allowed me to be myself when I was with him, and helped me to grow and learn about life, nature, and the world around me.

He never turned a stern word toward me, even when I deserved it. I remember once when I tried to ride my brother’s ten speed bike… It was so large I could barely touch the pedals, and I had to balance against the side of my house to get going. I rode up into Cord’s driveway, a big smile on my face, proud to show him what I had accomplished. He had already anticipated what I had yet to fathom, I couldn’t stop the bike. He positioned himself ready to catch me, a man already in his eighties, but I veered away not wanting to hurt him, and ran into his parked car instead. I left a scratch on the side, and I think I may have cracked a taillight. I turned, ashamed of what I’d done, only to see fear in his eyes. He wasn’t looking at the car, but at a scrape on my hand where I’d peeled the skin off to the muscle underneath.

He wasn’t rich, not by any means, living on a fixed income, but I never heard a word about the damage to his car. He never admonished me for trying something that even I knew was stupid by then. He only cared for my hand, rushing me to my mother’s side, his lips white with tension and fear.
I could tell you stories about this man for years, but I know that you’ll never really understand how dear he was to me. I’d never be able to recapture the relationship I shared with him, and you’ll never really understand why I gave you his antique for a name. Maybe this simple explanation will suffice… You’ll find in your life that unconditional love is a rare and beautiful thing. Once you have it, you’ll do whatever it takes to hold onto the spirit of that love. So I gave all of the love that Cord had for me, to you. Your name sums up everything from my childhood that I hold dear, and I cherish it, as I cherish you.

So be it man, car, or a young man standing on the brink of a new adventure into life… It’s a good name, it’s your name, make your mark on the world, and wear it proudly.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Just one of those mornings...

I woke up this morning to John's sonorous voice hollering "Oh sh**!" I opened my eyes to see the clock and find that we should have left the house fifteen minutes earlier…

Don’t you just love it when your morning starts out like that?

All in all, it could have been worse. We were only about 20 minutes late and still early enough that we had some time to relax before we had to start playing. It all went well, my voice didn’t get as torn up as I thought it would, and people seemed to appreciate the noise we were making. I was a little worried about what we were going to do with the girls while we were playing, but they ended up earning their keep by helping pass out water bottles to the participants.

We also got a really nice sign that says “ABS Blues Band” out of the deal. I’m sure I’ll find a good use for it.

Ok, so… It’s time for a snakey-poo update.

No, she still doesn’t have a name. I have a couple of ideas, but I want to run them by the two oldest kids to get their thoughts first. They come back home tomorrow, so maybe she’ll have a name by tomorrow night. Notice I say maybe… I have no faith in our ability to agree on anything. I attempted to feed her last night, but she refused it. I’m thinking (hoping) that she’s still stressed out from the move. We’re leaving her alone for awhile, and then we’ll try again. If some solitude doesn’t do the trick, I’ll have to give the breeder a call and see what he recommends. I’m hoping it doesn’t come to that though, he’s going to think I’m an idiot pretty soon if I keep having all of these problems. I’m not, I swear I’m not! I’ve raised four kids and haven’t had a single one escape their cage.*

*Disclaimer - I’m just kidding, no need to call DCFS.

I didn’t get any stamping done yesterday like I’d planned. I did get to go to the JoAnn Superstore though. I’m much better at accumulating papercrafting supplies than I am at using them anyway. I got a new Sizzix die. *Yay* I bought the slide mount die I’ve been wanting for awhile. I think it will be cool to cut them from chipboard and alter them. I also ordered the Ransom Doodle Bar set from the Sizzix web page last week (at 70% off on clearance *WooHoo*). They’re coming out with some really cute new dies now, and I, of course, want them all!

I also found the cutest Frankenstein dollar stamp there. I didn’t know JoAnn’s had dollar stamps, but I don’t get to the superstore that often. When I went to make some Halloween projects a couple of weeks ago, I found that I was seriously lacking in Halloween stamps, so now I’m doing my best to fill that hole. I’ve since gotten 3 Halloween sets from The Angel Company, along with a bunch of dollar stamps from Michael’s and now JoAnn’s.

*One of my projects made without a Halloween stamp.
It uses the Creepy Crawlies set from TAC.

I should be good for awhile now… Maybe… Though there is another TAC set that I’ve had my eye on…

John’s outside patching the front walk. We have to fill the big hole before it freezes or they won’t deliver our mail anymore (we nothing, make that He). I don’t hear him swearing yet, so it must be going ok, though he has had to make at least one trip to the hardware store for extra cement, and I see another in his future.

I should go take a picture before he gets mad so I can scrapbook the event.
Have a great day!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Better Photo

Better Photo

I had Ms. Snake out last night, so I finally got a photo of her entire body.

She's still pretty small, but she's only a month old.

This evening she gets to have her first meal here, and then we have to leave her alone for a few days while she digests. I expect her first feeding will go well; she seems to be settling in to her new environment, so hopefully she won't have any problems.

I submitted the photo of her poking her head out of the bedding to Stock Exchange, but it was rejected due to the subject being too small in the picture. I could crop it down which would probably make it more acceptable as stock art, but then the photo loses the depth of field and I think it compromises the composition. I'm not too terribly upset about the rejection; I think it's a good photo, just not what they look for in their stock art. Or maybe I'm just getting used to rejection.

I have a couple that I'm going to submit after some editing. I'm going to crop out the background entirely so that the subject becomes a photo object (just an item with a white background). Those might fly a little better, but we'll wait and see.

We had band practice today...

We're playing tomorrow at the Breast Cancer Walk and Run in Milwaukee. The only problem is we learned last week that we wouldn't have access to any electricity for the show. We debated renting a generator, but the expense was just too high for a gig we're volunteering for, so we decided to put together an acoustic show instead.

We ran the material today, and it sounds pretty good. My voice is going to be torn up by the end of the set though. I wish I could at least have a mike, but it's not going to happen. I'm just going to have to rely on my old opera training and project over the band. I've been using a mike for too long, and I'm not used to working that hard when I sing anymore.

I'm sure it will all be fine, and it's not like people are going to be hanging around to listen to us, they'll just be walking by and will only hear us for a few minutes.

Next week we'll start getting ready for the showcase gig in October. One set of our best material; those are the shows I like!

I think I'm going to do a spot of stamping today. I just got my new Halloween sets so I want to play. John's not feeling so hot, and Jenna woke him up early this morning, so he's taking a little nap. When he gets up we're going to run to the Guitar Center to get him some new strings for his acoustic. Until then, I have about 2 hours to play with my new sets. So I'm off! If I make anything good, I'll be sure to let you know!

Have a good one

Friday, September 22, 2006

Giving this a try...

Giving this a try...

We've talked about adding blogs to
A Shade of Blue, so I thought maybe I should give one a try so that I know what we're getting into. I'm not much of a journaler or diary writer though, so I don't know how well this will fly.

I won't go into a long drawn out introduction... If you're here, you already know me. It's not like anyone out there who doesn't know me will care what I have to say... Heck, most of the people who do know me probably don't care either.

So we got a new snake (that's her in the picture up there). This is my second snake in two weeks now. I lost the first one; she got out of her cage while we were all peacefully sleeping right after we brought her home, and we haven't seen her since. I'm sure she's living in the vents of our house now, happily munching on spiders and centipedes. They keep telling me that she might show up someday, but I'm not keeping my hopes up. Let's face it, if you had the choice between living in a ten gallon fish tank or making a break for the vast subterranean ventilation system, which would you choose?

So John brought me a home a new reptile friend, and I promptly went out and got a tank with a locking lid (I might be a fool but I'm no idiot). She's very pretty, but we haven't seen a whole lot of her yet. She's been hiding in the bedding since she got here.

She needs a name... I'm not positive, but I'm pretty sure that's why the last snake ran away. We'd had her for three days and hadn't named her yet. I'd be mad too... Alexi keeps suggesting these weird mythological names, Tiana is demanding we call her Fluffy, and Jenna tells us that no matter what we name the snake, she is going to call her Puppy. Is it just me or is there something wrong with my kids? CJ is the only one supporting the nearly normal name of Lilith. I'll let you know when a final decision is reached.

So I guess that's it for now. John and I have a babysitter scheduled for tonight, which means I have to clean the house. Perhaps I'll come back later and procrastinate a little longer. They say that writing is therapeutic, and this hasn't been too terrible. We'll just wait and see if I can keep up with it.

Happy Friday!