Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Thinking of you card

I made this card for my sister, Teresa, to remind her I haven't forgotten her.  I decided to take a crack at "fussy cutting" some elements from a K & Company paper pack, Life's Journey.  I also cut a giraffe from Tim Holtz grungepaper using the Cricut cartridge Martha Stewart Birthday Cake Art  (Teresa's cards always need a giraffe).  I used my Tim Holtz texture hammer in an attempt to add a little dimension to the giraffe, but unfortunately it didn't end well.  (Sorry, little giraffe.  I must have been having a really bad day.)  

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Real Reason for Menopause

There is a reason women have a limited number of childbearing years.  Raising children is exhausting. And when circumstances make it necessary for us to raise children beyond that timeframe, even with years of experience that hopefully taught us a thing or two, it can get ugly.

(In contrast, men can procreate throughout their lives.  Kind of tells you who's doing all the heavy lifting.)

Motherhood isn't for the faint-of-heart.  It's brutal, stressful work.  The pay isn't great.  Yes, there are rewards, but there are also struggles.  Lots and lots of struggles.  Eventually, the heartwarming moments will be those you remember most.  But I'm not there yet.  I think you have to actually get to the empty-nest years to experience that.

I'll say it again:  There's a reason women lose the ability to bear children at mid-life.  We. Are. Tired.

I'm pretty sure children spend most of their time honing their skills at pushing our buttons.  And by "our", I mean mothers (and sometimes grand/mothers*).  They spot our weaknesses (which usually stem from our desire to mold them into happy, successful adults) and zero in on how they can best take advantage.

If I hear one more, "I know!  I know!", in response to my "gentle" nudging that one child or the other needs to do one thing or another, I'll scream.  Because I know that if I don't "lovingly" remind them to do what should be obvious, I'll hear the inevitable, "I didn't know!"

I'm damned if I do and damned if I don't.  And I'm post-menopausal.  Need I say more?

*Reminder:  grand/mother refers to a grandmother serving in the capacity of a mother.

Thank You Card

Sometimes in life, usually when I'm completely overwhelmed and desperately needing nothing more than a chance to catch my breath, God steps in with an unexpected blessing.  Usually it's something small.  And that's okay.  It's still a reminder that God loves me and knows my struggles.  But once in a while it's something fun that really brightens my day.  It's as if God is saying, "I can't make the changes you think you need in your life; they aren't in My plan.  Until then, enjoy this and know I love you and want to see you smile."

Last September, in a moment when I really needed some encouragement, I received an email that I had won a contest.  Honestly, at first I thought it was a scam, and it took quite a while for me to find the company and the contest to see if I had even entered it.  (More than five minutes had passed, so of course I couldn't remember.)

Much to my surprise I had won a Cricut Explore!  Mind you, when this new machine was released in February I wouldn't even entertain the idea of buying one since there was no way I could fit it into our budget.  So I lived vicariously through those who were fortunate to actually own one, telling myself I could live without it for a long, long time.   But now I don't have to!

I decided the best way to jump in and learn to use the Explore was to make a card to thank the company, Creativebug, for their generous prize.  I found this image on the Cricut cartridge Paper Lace, and of course I wanted to keep the card simple and within my abilities since it was, after all, going to a company called Creativebug!  Sending a card to some real crafting experts didn't seem to be the appropriate time to try new and challenging techniques.  But my mama taught me to be thankful, so I cut this simple, but pretty image and added a strip of washi tape and some twine across the lower edge of the card.

Do you enter contests?  What are some prizes you've won?  I would love to hear about it!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Serving a Life Sentence

Today my husband and I should be celebrating our 32nd anniversary.  We've been planning a nice dinner out, just the two of us, for a few weeks now.  This doesn't seem like too much to ask once a year.  But evidently it is.

From the time the youngest grand/daughter arrived home from school, I've heard the never-ending saga of how she's ostracized because I won't buy her a cellphone (gotta give her props for the creative stories she tells), how she doesn't have any cute clothes like all the other kids (she has clothes, just not the ridiculous amount of name brand, overpriced things some of her friends have), and just a few minutes ago, she came to tell me she likes the denim jacket I found for her to wear with one of her dresses, but it's of no use because she doesn't have the right shoes.


The oldest grand/daughter started in on me before I even realized she was home from school.  I guess she was on the phone with her biological dad and he's been moved to a prison within an hour of our house (oh, wonderful) and she wanted to know if I'd take her to see him.  Yes, that's how I want to spend my spare time...in a prison visiting room.  Sorry, I didn't commit the crime and I shouldn't have to do the time.  And could somebody leave me alone for five minutes so I can get ready for dinner out with my husband?????!!!!!

As it got closer to dinner time, I tried to get both girls to tell me what they planned to do for dinner.  I wanted to make sure they were going to eat something with an ounce of nutritional value and not look at this as a free-for-all snack binge.  I couldn't get the oldest one to tell me anything.  Actually, as of last night she had plans to go to her Bible study group tonight where the leader usually serves dinner, but by today she had decided not to go.  (This left me suspicious in light of the fact she knew my husband and I wouldn't be home, so my already-frayed nerves were sent into high alert.)  Finally, even though I had already showered, spackled my face, smoothed the frizz out of my hair, and put on nicer clothes than my usual jeans and sweatshirt, I decided the best thing to do was stand over a hot stove and cook a semi-healthy dinner for the kids.  Heaven forbid they should have to eat leftovers or a sandwich (which just happens to be what I eat for lunch every day).

To be honest, I really don't blame either of my grand/daughters. They're good kids, but they are kids, and they want what other kids have.  As a matter of fact, I often feel guilty because they deserve better than what this tired old lady has to give.  I've been raising children for nearly forty years and I just need a break.  But there's no light at the end of the tunnel for me. Realistically, my husband and I have another decade of supporting these girls, both financially and emotionally, before we can even dream of time to rest and be together.

Dinner out tonight isn't going to happen.  Somewhere between listening to one complaint or another, I simply lost my appetite.  I'm sure the biological parents of these children are going about their day doing whatever they want, or at least whatever they can with the lives they've chosen for themselves, without giving a care in the world to the needs of these precious girls.  Because of their irresponsible actions I feel like I've been given a life sentence for a crime I didn't commit.

And there's no justice in that.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Things are the Same Wherever I Go

In my home there are four people and three bathrooms.  It doesn't matter what time of day, what day of the week, or which bathroom I use...I think every time I go I have to replace the toilet paper roll. Sometimes it's obvious the last person intentionally left behind just a square or two.  You know, technically it wasn't empty.

Today I went to Michael's for a little retail therapy after my dental appointment.  First stop--the bathroom (I'd been at the dentist's for a while).  I sat my naked behind down and immediately checked the paper situation (too many past regrets).  Whoops.  No paper.

I immediately started to re-dress myself and move to another stall when I spotted the giant toilet paper roll propped on the back of the toilet.  I sat back down, reached for the giant roll, then noticed the paper holder on the wall didn't have a locking door.  (You know society has reached an all-time low when every public place has to lock up the scratchy one-ply toilet paper.)   I put the giant roll onto the dispenser and faced the hard, cold truth.

No matter where I go, there's a good chance I'll be refilling the toilet paper.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Giraffe Card

I wanted to make a card for my sister, Teresa, just to say, "I love you".  I've written several times before about how she loved giraffes, and how she has been in a vegetative state for almost 15 years now.  I can't visit her very often since we live hundreds of miles apart, so I like to send cards once in a while to let her know how much she means to me.  My other sisters, who live in our hometown and visit her regularly, are kind enough to deliver my cards and read them to her.  (They are my heroes for all they do for Teresa, even though they have families and other responsibilities that keep them plenty busy.)

The giraffe was cut from the Cricut cartridge Wall Decor and More.  The background was embossed with the Darice embossing folder Corner Scroll.   I finished with a stamped sentiment (and some really bad photography).

Thanks so much for visiting!

I've Got a Job to Do

I know this life isn't all there is, and our focus should really be on eternity.  But the here-and-now is what I'm faced with every day.  And it isn't easy.

I've been brutally honest about my struggles (or at least as much as possible without hurting too many feelings), and how in the midst of it all God has pulled me up from despair, slapped me a couple of times to get my attention, and then blessed me in ways I probably don't even recognize.

But that doesn't mean it isn't difficult.  My family is still struggling financially (although it isn't as hopeless as before). Every day the kids mention one thing or another their friends have that we can't (or won't) buy for them.  College is just a little over a year away for the oldest grandchild (and we have maybe enough saved to cover a semester or two at a state school).  My husband and I will celebrate our 32nd anniversary next week, but can't even dream of a romantic getaway; at this point, we're just hoping we can slip away for dinner without something going wrong.  And I watch other people--especially those who should be the ones shouldering these burdens--spending life living only for themselves.

I watch as those who walked away from their responsibilities are lauded as wonderful people, deserving only of the best in life.  My granddaughter's paternal grandmother sends gifts to my house to be passed along to my daughter, the birth mother, to show her how special she is for giving birth. Meanwhile, I spend my days alone, keeping house, cooking meals, doing laundry, and listening to teenage angst that threatens to last forever.   And never an encouraging word, much less expressions of appreciation.

I know God has given my husband and me this task, and I think I know why.  And I'm grateful that I have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of two children I adore.  Someday I'll stand in the presence of my Lord, and I hope He'll say, "Well done, my child".  (But I suspect He'll say, "I gave you one task, and you complained about it constantly.  Go sit in the corner until I can stand to look at you.")  Either way, I'll continue my struggle, do the job I was given to the best of my ability, and know that in the end I might very well have changed the lives of my two granddaughters for the better.  And that makes it all worthwhile.

Even if I don't feel it at this moment.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Happy Birthday Card with Metallic Accents

Here's a simple birthday card I made for a very special young man. I wanted to add a little sparkle without making it look girly, so I used metallic paper for the banners and patterned paper with metallic accents for the background.  I won't even pretend to remember which Cricut cartridges I used, but I'm pretty sure I did actually use my Cricut.   

Thanks for visiting!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Boy's 13th Birthday Card

Cards for men and boys are one of my biggest challenges.  But the most difficult are for teenage boys. You've got to keep the card interesting without making it too "cutesy".   And I've never raised a son, so I'm not quite attuned to what they like or find "cool". Considering my confusion, I've learned to keep it simple without making it look like I didn't try at all.  Two things I turn to again and again are embossing folders and fancy (yet masculine) paper.

For this card I used the Cuttlebug embossing folder Diamond Plate to emboss a metallic sheet of paper.  I chose patterned paper that included silver stars, then cut the number 13 from grungepaper and painted it silver to match.

The most rewarding part of this project is that it went to a wonderful young man who always appreciates my handmade cards.  And that makes it all worthwhile.

Do you find cards for men and boys difficult, or is there another type card you find especially challenging?  I'd love to hear your thoughts!