Monday, July 10, 2017

Beach-Themed Card

I complain a lot about how difficult life can be. But I know two things: 1) I've been incredibly blessed...not because I deserve it but because of God's mercy and grace; and 2) other people have problems, too, and as a Christian I should strive to be like Jesus and show kindness to them.

I have no problem with the first thing on my list. I'll take God's grace anytime, anywhere (and I'm still standing only because of His mercy). But the second one is a struggle. I spend far too much time immersed in self-pity to be much like Jesus (but I hope I never stop trying).

Long story short, I wanted to show love to someone very special by sending an unexpected card.

The recipient loves the beach (as do I, and probably you, too), so the theme was an easy one. I cut the beach chair, flip flops, palm tree and umbrella on my Cricut Explore from the Life is a Beach cartridge, and the clouds were cut from the Sanrio-Hello Kitty Greetings cartridge. I tore pieces of cardstock to create the sand and water, then added some glitter to the blue cardstock to mimic ocean waves (not perfect, but once glitter is glued to paper it isn't easy to tweak if you aren't happy with the effect!) And on that note, I could have stamped the sentiment directly on the sky, but after my regrets about the glitter waves, I thought it would be prudent to stamp separately on vellum...just in case.



Thanks for visiting! 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Pileup

It has just all become a bit too much. Can I catch my breath? Please? Does it really have to be one pile on top of another on top of another on top of another...???

And the worst part is nobody understands...or seems to try.  No matter how I try to explain exactly why I can't keep going like this, it just becomes another "rant" by the crazy old lady.

Forty years. On top of the first 19, which weren't exactly a walk in a suburban park.

What other job requires their workers to give heart, mind and soul for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year...for forty years??? No vacation, no days off, no pay. And seemingly...no retirement.

My pastor, who I'm sure works very hard and is under great pressure, enjoys many spiritual retreats throughout the year. He also has several associate pastors along with a bevy of other church employees who take some of the burden off him. He even took a sabbatical a couple of years ago where he traveled extensively for a few months. I don't begrudge him one moment of it because too much responsibility for too long is too much.

I haven't had a single day off in forty years. Oh sure, my husband and I have taken a few short trips...very few...over many, many years, but there were inevitably problems at home that found their way to us before the "vacation" was over. I've even come home to a few "burglaries" and assorted other fiascoes.

Every time I think God will get me through this and I can build up strength before the next pile heads my way, I find myself suffocating under the weight of something new.

I hate feeling this way. I love my family. I wish I had boundless energy...physical, emotional and spiritual. But my batteries never get recharged. I'm literally running on empty.

Where do I go from here? Where does one go when the pressure mounts but there is no release? Why can't those around look at their own contributions to the unbearable stress and be helpful for a change, or at least not judge? Why am I expected to be Supermom, but treated as if I'm worthless and have no right to live some aspect of my life as I choose?

Where the hell is common sense, kindness and personal accountability? Yeah, I need a break. And I fear the only one I'll get will come in the form of a breakdown.

At least when that day comes they'll have to find another place to put their pile.


Thursday, June 1, 2017

Graduation Box Card

***Apologies upfront for the poor lighting. I'm still working on my papercrafting skills; once I've mastered those I'll work on my photography. You might want to take a seat while you wait.***

This graduation box card was made for a special girl using my Cricut Explore. (I did hand cut the box base using a template I found on the internet.)

The beauty of using the Cricut Explore machine along with the Design Space software is that I can easily search for the perfect images and utilize several cartridges with ease (which I did with this card). Here's the list of images and phrases I used:

Girl graduate - Paper Dolls Teen Scene
Owl - Recess
Graduation cap - Recess
Diploma - Recess
Congratulations - Lyrical Letters
Way to Go! - 3 Birds on Parade
You Did It! - Cake Basics
2016 - ? (Sorry, I added that last minute and didn't save the info, nor did my aging brain retain it for an entire year)

The other details I added were googly eyes for the owl, a tassel braided from thread and attached to the cap with a brad, and a few thin wires I coiled and added as festive filler.

Thanks for visiting!







Thursday, April 6, 2017

First-World Problems

Today I feel beaten down. I would say it has been a day filled with problems, but the truth is they are simply "first-world" problems. Nothing earth-shattering. It's just that there were a whole bunch of them. Before noon.

My life isn't so bad. It isn't what I wanted it to be and it isn't what I worked hard to achieve. But overall, I'm pretty blessed. That doesn't mean, however, that I can't feel like a lump of coal being pressured into becoming a diamond.  (I don't have a brilliant scientific mind, but I'm pretty sure that takes a long time and a lot of pressure.)

If you are feeling stressed, whether by first-world problems or by tragic circumstances, I hope this video will remind you that you aren't alone. Whether you are experiencing everyday problems or something more profound, remember that God wants to walk alongside you every step of the way. And when necessary, He will pick you up and carry you to where He wants you to be.




Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Keep Moving


What do you do when you've reached your limit and just don't know how to keep going? (Yes, again.)

I've been raising children non-stop since I was 19. I'll be 60 next year.

I'll let you think about that for a moment...


Just when I thought the grand/children were starting to spread their wings and fly, the older one did a u-turn and moved back in. It doesn't appear I'll ever get a break.

So, what do you do when you feel you can't go on? I've tried crying. And screaming. And fantasizing about a carefree life far, far away (usually on a beach and alone). But none of that helped one bit.

All I can do is look toward Heaven, and pray, pray, pray... then pray some more. After all, that's what brought me this far. And I trust that God will help me move to wherever He wants me to go from here.

Judging from the past four decades, He will probably just send me to bed for some rest and refreshment so I can get up tomorrow and do it all again.


Monday, March 20, 2017

Time Marches On...Dreams Stay Behind

I can't believe it took me this long to figure it out.

I see other women my age (post-menopausal) who seem to accept who they are...more or less. Yes, they might try to "turn back the hands of time", but they seem to know who--and how old--they are. On the other hand, I've been struggling for years to reconcile the old woman I encounter in the mirror with the 45 year old lady I expect to see.

And now I know why.

Before I reached my 30th birthday, I thought I had my life-plan in place. My youngest child would finish college while I was still in my mid-forties, and there would most likely be many good, healthy years ahead for my husband and me to enjoy life as a couple. But before that day came we found ourselves with one grandchild to care for...and then another. And shortly thereafter it became necessary for us to become their legal guardians. Eventually it became apparent that this was no longer a temporary arrangement and we would remain parents until these two precious children were grown.

Groan. 

I love my grand/daughters dearly, I truly do, and for their sake I was happy to spend the past 18 years caring for them. But now I'm old, tired, and falling apart. And last week, just a few months after I allowed myself to once again entertain ideas of a carefree future, my dreams were...once again...shattered.

I thought we had the oldest grand/daughter on her way to adulthood. She seemed to have a plan and we thought she was on her way to achieving her goals, but then she dropped the bombshell that she wanted a do-over. Not only did she drop out of college (after we had paid for the entire year), but now she wanted to take a year off to figure things out.

When, oh when, will it be my turn? I have it figured out...if only everybody else would do what they're supposed to be doing!

And it isn't just the death of my dreams that has me upset. The stress of endlessly raising children--and not always agreeing on the best way to do that--is taking a toll on my marriage. My husband and I celebrated our anniversary yesterday, but by today there wasn't much to celebrate. I still love him and I think he still loves me, but I don't know how many more stress-fueled arguments we can endure while trying to deal with the seemingly-endless task of raising children into responsible adults.

Anyway, back to the old lady in the mirror. The much-younger lady inside put her life on hold at 45, and subconsciously must have expected to come back eventually and find things just the way she had left them.  But it doesn't work that way. My life stopped...but the clock didn't. And I'm not especially happy about it all. Not because I can't handle a little adversity or hard work, but because I have a difficult time dealing with the impact on my life from the immature, irresponsible, selfish choices of others.

Today was excruciatingly difficult. Tomorrow is looking like it might be worse. But I'll try to start fresh anyway, and pray that if it can't be better I'll at least make it through. God has brought me this far, and I have faith He'll carry me on from here. He might have to. I'm not getting any younger.

Just trying to finish the race.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

34 Years

Today my husband and I celebrated 34 years of marriage. There have been steep hills and deep valleys--and not much in between--but I wouldn't want to have climbed over and out with any other human companion.  And thankfully, God has been with both of us every step of the way.

It hasn't always been easy, but I've always been richly blessed.

For more about how I make it through each day, please visit my blog Blessings Before Breakfast.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Mama

Ten years ago today my mother passed away.

To say it happened suddenly isn't entirely true. Yes, the event that led to her death was completely unexpected, but she didn't succumb until 15 days later. And I held out hope until the very end. After all, she was small but mighty and I never thought I would ever have to say goodbye.

I've suffered through other losses in my life, and each one hurt in its own unique way. But it was at the time of my mother's death that I really felt the distance between this life and the next. At that moment, even though I wholeheartedly believed in the afterlife, I was confronted with the fact that my mother was gone from this earth and enjoying the splendor of Heaven...and I couldn't quite grasp that concept. All of a sudden it was as if I was Here and she was There and I needed to find the string that would connect us again.

I had never felt so alone.

What is it about our mothers that is so very special? My mother wasn't perfect (although she was in many ways a saint) but she was the only mother I ever needed or wanted. Her death left a hole in my heart that no other human can fill. I'm sure my siblings would probably say the same thing.

There have been so many times in the past decade when I thought I couldn't possibly go on. Those were the times I needed my mother the most. I needed to have her on my side when my husband and I argued about how best to raise our grand/daughters. I longed to hear her tell me one more time that I am a good mother in spite of what the children say. And maybe because I knew I no longer could, I desperately wanted to tell her how much she meant to me. How much she meant to us all. How dearly we loved her and appreciated everything she did for everybody she knew.

So in my prayers tonight, after I thank God for the many wonderful things He's already done for me, I'll ask Him to please tell my mother that I love her and miss her with all my heart. And then I'll thank God again for blessing me with the imperfect mother He knew would be perfect for me.



Monday, December 12, 2016

Giraffe Birthday Banner Card

This card was made using the Cricut cartridge Creative Everyday Cards. The original design as shown on the cartridge is a love-themed card consisting of two giraffes facing each other with a heart in between. Since this was a birthday card for my sister, I changed it up a bit by giving the giraffes a little space and having them "hold" a banner between them.

Thanks for stopping by!


Monday, November 28, 2016

Path to Everything

I hesitate to write this because my personal posts have caused turmoil in the past. And I don't need, or want, any more turmoil in my life. But it's been so long since I posted anything, I doubt my blog is on anybody's radar anymore.

Safe space.

I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism last week. Actually, I was diagnosed over five years ago, but I stopped taking my medication after a few months (for a variety of reasons), and the medical practice lost my records when they converted to a new computer program shortly thereafter, so we'll call it a "new" diagnosis.

Honestly, my "suspecting" this diagnosis is the only reason I dragged myself back to see my doctor. I have this dream that a magic pill will solve all my problems: overwhelming exhaustion, overwhelming depression, near blindness, inability to lose weight, excessively dry skin, etc.

That's a lot to ask of one tiny pill.

God is the only reason I've made it this far. There is no other explanation. Most days I can barely function (although I always manage to do what needs to be done). Many days I have no will to live (but I always hang on because there are people who count on me).

It's been brutal.

But the depression---that's the killer.  Life can be difficult enough. Life raising kids without a support system--and trying to do it right (which is the hard way)---isn't the best place for someone suffering from long-term depression. Stress exacerbates everything to the Nth degree. And if you don't already know, I'm going to let you in on a little secret---kids create stress levels you can't begin to imagine while you're still child-free and innocent. Teenagers can be deadly. Being called "crazy" as a thank-you for giving up the best years of your life to raise your granddaughters doesn't help anything. (And it isn't just the teenagers saying it.) To misquote Carrie Heffernan from an episode of The King of Queens, "I'm hearing 'You're crazy', when I should be hearing, 'I'm sorry.'"

Low self-esteem, low energy levels, low thyroid function---no wonder I feel so, well...low.

But not everything is low. I now have hypertension. Two teenage girls to raise=high blood pressure. And as mentioned above, being called "crazy" by everybody who doesn't get what they want or who pushes my buttons repeatedly until I snap (picture someone in a hurry on an elevator pressing the button over, and over, and over...), well, the elevator isn't the only thing going up.

Surprise! Now the crazy lady might just explode. Literally.

So here we go down this path to wellness...again. Can a tiny white pill really fix this? Do I really care? Does anybody?

I've done all I can do. Now it's up to a little bitty pill. And a great big God.






Thursday, October 20, 2016

Spooky Halloween Card

This graveyard-themed card was made for my teenage grand/daughters last Halloween. I cut the graveyard scene and the bat from the Cricut cartridge Happy Hauntings.  The bat was mounted on a spring to allow him to "wobble". The background was embossed with a folder from the Cricut Happy Hauntings set, which coordinates with the cartridge.  To dress up the inside of the card, I cut a border of ghosts from a Martha Stewart punch.




As I was reviewing my photos, I discovered an extra-spooky character had photobombed this picture (and evidently cast a spell over my camera rendering it incapable of focusing):

Thanks for stopping by! (To my readers, not my photobombing "guest".)

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Elmo Halloween Card

This is the card I made last Halloween for my two youngest grandchildren. I figured it was my last chance to use this cute Ghost Elmo cut from the Cricut cartridge Elmo & Friends Holiday before the kids got too old to appreciate him.

I placed Elmo inside the card on a hidden spring so he could "wobble". I cut through the front of the card to create a window; the window frame is from the Cricut cartridge October 31st. I added a piece of acetate between the window layers, and stamped a small spider on the acetate just below the top left corner (top right if viewing from inside) using StazOn ink.

And finally, inside I stamped and heat embossed the "Happy Halloween" sentiment.


Thanks for visiting!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Reality vs. Fantasy

Dropping our oldest grand/daughter off at college last week had an unexpected effect on me...

I'm sad.

My husband and I never thought we'd be spending "our time" raising our grandchildren. We had planned and worked hard so that by our mid-forties, when our youngest daughter would be entering college, we could finally relax a little and be done with child raising.

That was a very long time ago. And it didn't happen.

Before we reached our fifties, what had started as us caring for our granddaughters part-time had turned into us being their full-time parents. Instead of my husband slowing down his workload with the goal of semi-retirement by his mid-fifties, he found it necessary to work additional hours and occasional part-time jobs to help make ends meet. After all, children can be quite expensive.

But the biggest toll on me, and the primary reason I didn't look forward to raising children into my sixties, was emotional. Children are often a source of anxiety and stress in our lives.

I love my grand/daughters with all my heart and soul. They are my children. And I worry about their health, happiness, safety, future, and in every other way possible.

It is draining. 

And I was drained before I started.

My husband and I thought that the beginning of the "college years" (part 2) would signal the beginning of our golden years. We have both worked hard to stay healthy and maintain our strength and balance as we get older so we can enjoy all the things we should have had time and money to do years earlier.

But now, with the realities of sending a beloved child out into the adult world, we are starting to wonder if we're ready to let go. Raising a teenager brings worry during the hours they are out running around. Once they're home, we can calm down and relax a little (until the next day when they do it all over again!)

When they're old enough to move out into the big-wide-world and are no longer safe and sound in their own rooms under our watchful eyes, the worry becomes a 24/7/365 event. And what I was really in need of was a little peace of mind and a sigh of relief.

Why did I not realize where this was headed??? After all, I had already sent another child off to college years ago...and much farther from home.

I think that back then, because our family had been in utter chaos for several years, we felt we were sending our youngest daughter out to a better, more peaceful place. And we were already caring for our two grand/daughters, so we couldn't really see an empty nest looming on the horizon.

We were very busy. And a little naive.

But here we are during a time of relative stability, and the reality of watching our grand/daughters fly from the safety of our nest and navigate the world without us is terrifying. And a little lonely.

It isn't at all what I expected.





Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Changes

For my family, this is Milestone Week.

My oldest grand/daughter started college today. And turned 18. What a difference a day makes!

On Wednesday, her younger sister goes to high school orientation. How is this even possible???

I'm reeling. As much as I've fantasized that my husband and I might actually live long enough to have time alone to enjoy as a couple, the reality is a little more bittersweet.

I'm not ready to let go!

Settling into dorm life (with help from little sis)




Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Exposure

My teenage grand/daughter knocked on the door while I was taking a bath. "Come in", I said without hesitation.

Yes, after 38 years of bath-time interruptions, it no longer occurs to me that I should attempt to maintain a shred of dignity.

So on the topic of parental exposure, let me say that I think every parent should write an autobiography. It isn't that I think our dirty little secrets should all be out in the open, but rather I believe it's important that all children understand that their parents had lives before they had them.

I'm not a psychologist (although I play one at home), so I can't say for sure why children hold their parents to an unattainable standard of perfection. We must be 100% fair at all times. We shouldn't have feelings of our very own. We can't be swayed by prior acts, whether committed by that particular child or someone else.

We are supposed to be robots.

I'm not a robot. I'm a real person, raised by real parents, with real siblings, judged by real people, dealing with real problems...all while living in the real world. It ain't easy, folks. And kids need to know that everything that happened in our lives prior to this very moment affect who we are and how we react to every situation.

Some day I'll write my book. Maybe by then the kids will have gained enough maturity to understand.

Until then, children, take note: It's not all about you.


Monday, July 18, 2016

Simple Thank You Card...plus a story


This card was made from the Cricut cartridge Simple Cards. And it was just that---simple.

I had made several of these for my grand/daughter to send after graduation. I didn't take any pictures because I hadn't done any real "creating" other than choosing paper, and I hadn't planned to post to my blog. Until one card came back to me in my mail...

The story behind the card can be found on "Blessings Before Breakfast" (shameless rerouting to my new blog)

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Difficult Choices

I guess it's time for another pity party.

(I've noticed that it's really hard to get others to attend my pity parties. But I'm throwing one anyway.)

First, let me say I'm so very grateful for everything God has provided. And I try with every fiber of my being to be content and to trust God to take care of my family and me. But every single day I take on a new burden or two (or three). And this old lady has reached total burnout.

Yesterday my oldest grand/daughter's car broke down on the side of the road. (She wasn't where she was supposed to be, but that's one of those "burdens" I'll have to save for another time; I can't handle them all in one day, even though my procrastination is leading to serious backlog issues.) The repair bill for today was just under $500. But of course, there's more work that needs to be done soon. (Thank goodness I have that "procrastination" bin--I'll worry about those repairs later, too.)

Today my younger grand/daughter learned that a spot had opened up on our church's youth retreat and there's now room for her to go. Why on earth a church thinks every family has $500 to spend for their child to do a week's worth of charitable work is beyond me, but again, that's a discussion for another time.

So in less than 24 hours, my husband and I have been hit with another $1000+ in expenses. He's doing all he can to support the family, so the only option left to improve our family's finances would be for me to go back to work.

I don't know that there's much of a market for a woman nearing the age of 60 who hasn't worked in nearly two decades, and who had limited skills (and energy) way back then. It's only gotten worse in the ensuing years. I have no healthy body parts left, so selling them is out of the question. I guess I could consider exotic dancing, but I think the only way anybody would pay to watch me swing from a pole is if I'm part of the primate exhibit at the zoo.

Choices, choices.

And if you're still here, thank you for attending. I'll try to put together party favors at a later date.





Friday, July 8, 2016

Baby Girl Card


This simple card was made using the Cricut cartridge Baby Steps. And by "simple" I mean there was no designing involved other than choosing which paper to use. The images on this cartridge are some of my favorites because they really don't need anything fancy to turn them into adorable elements for cards or scrapbook layouts.

Thanks for visiting!

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Diversification

I started this blog to share my crafty endeavors, but since those are extremely rare it quickly became a pity-party venue. I decided I needed a new untainted place to write about the good things in life.

My new blog can be found here: Blessings Before Breakfast. God continues to bless me in spite of myself, and I want to share those experiences in hopes that they might uplift someone else. I would love to have you visit me in my "new location".

This blog will still be here. After all, I have children, a husband, and bills to pay. There will be no shortage of drama that needs to be told.

And once in a while I might even make something.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to all the men who provide love and support to the children who depend on them. And may God shine down on my wonderful husband today and always! (More about that here.)

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Strong Enough

How do you get through another day when you desperately need a break that isn't coming?

I don't know. I just don't know.

But I don't need to have all the answers. I have God. He's carried me this far and promises to be with me always.

And that's enough for me.


Thursday, May 19, 2016

New Beginnings

I started a new blog so I could write uplifting words that would hopefully inspire others.

I'm not there yet.

Today I crave a fresh start. Desperately. It isn't that I don't have faith in God and the fact that He is, and always has been, in control. The problem is that I live in a world filled with sinful, selfish people. And God never promised us an easy life under these circumstances.  All He promised was an eternity with Him in Heaven if we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior.

I'm not sure I can wait much longer.

Life is filled with hardships. This isn't a foreign concept to me. But what I'm having trouble dealing with is others who inflict their selfish choices on me, causing me unnecessary stress and struggles.

Can't anyone around me grow up and do what's right???

I'm not a control freak, as I've been accused of being. I'm just a mom/grandmom who is sick and tired of dealing with selfishness and stupidity. I'm exhausted from struggling for decades to work hard and do the right thing so I can finally reach my goals in life, only to have those around me live for instant gratification, then dump the consequences of their selfish choices on top of my well-laid plans. And usually the thanks I get for picking up the pieces is to be told it's all my fault anyway.

In four years, when I'm well into my sixties, the youngest grand/child will turn eighteen. I love my children and grandchildren, but when I'm no longer legally responsible for any of them I will have no qualms with saying a hearty "Goodbye!" to anyone who tries to point the finger at me as the cause of their problems. I did the best I could for those who were entrusted to me, but God gave every last one of us free will and I can't be expected to deal with the fallout from everyone who exercised theirs. Believe it or not, I've never been a "control freak" and I couldn't be in control of the entire world even if I were.

Grow up and do what's right, or bear the burden of your own consequences. I can't fix you and I refuse to go down trying.




Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Butterfly Birthday Card

I really need to find some energy to get back to crafting instead of trotting out projects from the distant past, if for no other reason than that my aging brain can't remember any details beyond 30 seconds ago. But here's what I've pieced together:

The white background was embossed with a Darice folder, which is appropriately named Butterflies in Corner. I cut a few butterflies in various sizes from pastel cardstock using my Cricut Explore and the Disney - Hannah Montana cartridge, then layered them in sets of two on top of the embossed butterflies to add dimension and color. Looking at the photo, I think I also detect a little glitter glue on the butterfly bodies.  I finished by stamping the sentiment in the open space of the white cardstock (rather poorly, but it was a one-shot deal and it is what it is).

Thanks for visiting!



Sunday, April 24, 2016

My Day in #hashtags


#morningworship   #perfectweather   #allergies   #recoverynap   #pizzafordinner
#nothingontv   #bored   #hashtagssolvenothing   #isitbedtimeyet   #hashtaghangover

Friday, April 22, 2016

Simple Cricut Birthday Card


I haven't blogged in over a month. So sad.

This card was made from the Cricut cartridge Simple Everyday Cards. To dress it up just a little I chose a metallic paper to back the sentiment.

Nothing fancy. But that's to be expected when the word "simple" is right there in the title.


Thanks for visiting!