Thursday, December 31, 2009

One Little Word

What's your word for the new year? This is the questions that Ali Edwards posted the other day on her blog. For the last few years she has picked a word to help her focus her energy on one aspect of her life. I've read her blogs about this but never really committed to a "word". This year I've been thinking about it and I decided to pick a word for 2010.

My word for 2010 is clean.

As in clean house, clean eating, clean thinking.

Let me explain.

I hate cleaning the house, but I'm very stressed and crabby in a dirty house. Over the last few months I haven't been keeping up with any of my weekly cleaning and it's really stressing me out. So I'm going to work on keeping the house clean.

I've been a fan of Tosca Reno for ago a year now. She is the author of the Clean Eating Diet. I agree with her philosophy of eating whole foods and limiting proceed food and sugar. Even thought I've read all her books, get her magazine and check out her blog, I haven't really joined the ranks of "eating clean." So I'm going to work on eating clean.

My negative thoughts can be a burden to me. It will make me stop moving in the right direction and some days I just get nothing done because of the negative thought (which discuss themselves as perfectionism). So I'm going to try to clean our the negative thoughts.

I know this is a lot to take on but I'm going to incorporate my word into my yearly tweaks.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Looking forward to 2010

In a few days it's time to change the calendar to 2010. Because of that I've been thinking about the new year...what do I want to happen?

That brings the question Do I make a resolution or not? Are you the type to make a resolution or do you make a resolution, not to make a resolution?

I use to make resolution. The typical lose weight, get heather, get out of debt. I would do good for a while and then slide back into my old ways. So this year I decided to make "tweaks". Everything I've ever read on improve something says you need to take baby that's what the tweaks will be. Small steps to get to my goal.

Here are my tweaks for January 2010:

  1. Drink at least 20 oz. of water per day (I know you are suppose to drink 64 oz. per day, but again I'm doing baby steps).
  2. Do cardio for 30 minutes at least 5 days a week.
  3. Make at least 1 scrapbook page every week.
  4. Have a game night with my family at least once per month.
These might seem easy to do, which is fine. When these become a habit then I will add more tweaks. What are your plans for the new year? What ever they are I hope you have a health and happy 2010.

Friday, December 18, 2009

12 Tags - Recap

Hi All!

It's the final count down. Just one week until the big day - Christmas! I know everyone is excited around here. I'm just thrilled that most of my packages arrived today, so I can start wrapping gifts tonight. I also shipped the packages I need to get to family. I haven't done my Christmas Cards, but I think I'm just going to do New Years Cards instead. I still don't have a good picture and the kids have colds so their noses are all red and don't make for a good picture.

Hope all your last minute holiday prep is going smoothly. Have a happy holiday!

Here is a recap of all 12 tags that I made for the 12 Tags of Christmas that Tim Holtz's inspired. If you played along check out The Artistic Stamper, at this website for a chance to win some goodies by posting your tags.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Tag 10,11 and 12 - 12 Tags of Christmas

I can not believe it...I did all 12 tags. It was iffy for a little while there. I was not sure if I would get around to it but I finally told myself....come on, you only have 3 more to do. The last tags are really different from the ones that Tim Holtz's showed on his website. I just didn't have the supplies or tools to duplicate the techniques, so I just got inspiration from his tags and ran from there. So here they are the final 3 tags:

I used the ranger alcohol inks to color the word stickers. I used the ink daubers to color the grunge board accents.

I didn't have the cool brad maker, so I used from decorative buttons I had in my stash.

Nothing can compare to Tim's grunge roses. They are so stunning. I didn't have the grunge paper so I really didn't know what I was going to do with this tag. I made the background and then it just sat on my table for days. As I was wrapping gifts I came across these mini bows and thought they would look great on this tag. I added a few twigs and some fake berries and I think it came out cute.

Well, I hope you enjoyed seeing my 12 tags....

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Wonderful Teachers

I'm envious of those people that have that one teacher that has touched their lives so profoundly that they remember them with fondness and admiration. It takes someone special to inspire someone's life and enhance the direction they are going.
The best teachers teach from the heart, not from the book. ~Author Unknown
My middle son has been that lucky this year. He was blessed with a wonderful student teacher, Ms. Pacioni. I know she will do great things in her teaching career. There is just something special about her. My son and her made such a great connection it was amazing to see. They shared this bond over the Shil Silverstein's book Where the Sidewalk Ends. In particular the poem If the World Was Crazy. Ms. Pacioni helped him come out of his shell and be able to express himself more. It's easy to over look my son - he's quiet, intelligent and doesn't need much direction to do his work. In today's over crowded classrooms, it's easy for him to get lost. She made the effort to really connect with him and in return I believe he has made a mark on her as well.

Friday was her farewell and good luck party. He still has an amazing teacher so I'm not worried about his education. But he is losing that special connection that he had. I'm sure we will see Ms. Pacioni throughout the school year but it's not the same.

I hope he has the opportunity again to find that special teacher that connects with him on that unique level.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Call me Ms. Lucky

I'm lucky to live in an area were there is no shortage of local scrapbooking stores. There are a few that I frequent and enjoy going to crops at with friends. I know these stores so well that I know when they have their annual anniversary sales without even seeing the fliers or signs. One of these stores has their sale the first weekend in December. During the sale they have everything 20% off and they give raffle tickets based on the amount you spend. Tons of fun!

About five years ago I went eagerly to this store for the sale. This was when the economy was booming and I had saved up some money to have some fun shopping. The store was packed and it took me hours to shop and check out. When I returned home I jokingly said to my husband that I've been shopping at this store ever since they opened and never have won any of their raffle prizes. To my surprise I received a phone call the next day saying I won one of the prizes. I thought the women said I won a $50 prize bag, so I was extremely excited. I left the house as soon as my husband got home to see what the goodies would be. I was amazed when the women bought out this beautiful bag filled with goodies. I misunderstood her on the phone; I didn't win $50, I won the $250 prize. From that day on, I never say "I never win anything." And the truth is, I actually win quite often.

Since that first win, I have won something every year except one. Last weekend, I was out doing some running around when I remembered that it was the annual sale. I didn't really save up for the sale and I didn't really need anything, but I decided to stop in and at least get some basic supplies; adhesives, pop dots, neutral paper. I got a few raffle tickets, put them in the bucket and didn't think much about it. The next day I notice my answering machine blinking. I couldn't believe it when I heard that voice say "You have won something in our raffle." Those of you that know me well are now shaking your head saying I can not believe this. It cracks me up! I took the drive to the store and picked up my lovely bag of goodies. I'm looking forward to playing with some of the fun papers and embellishments. Too bad my luck doesn't work with the big lotteries!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Tag 6, 7, 8 and 9 - 12 Tags of Christmas

It's been awhile since I've posted my tags...actually it's been awhile since I've had a chance to work on them. So last night I stayed up and played and played! It was great and I'm now covered in ink. So here are the last 4 tags I've finished....

Tag 6: I didn't have the cool fluffy stuff Tim used so I used glitter snow in a jar. I really like how this turned out and need to use this on future projects.

Tag 7: This tag was all about masking. I liked how the mask turned out but I'm not happy with the colors - too dark. I might try this again with some brighter tones.

Tag 8: I just love the music paper. I actually got carried away with making these and used them on some cards that I did yesterday.

Tag 9: This has to be the funniest tag ever! I just love the photos that Tim supplied for this tag. I need to find the picture of me crying on Santa's lap for future cards.

Friday, December 11, 2009

2 Sketches

It's been a few weeks since I've did the 2 sketches challenge and I wasn't even sure if I was going to find time to do this weeks but then something happened. As always I draw the sketch and hoped that something would inspire me.

Then I was working starting to work on the next tags of the 12 Tags of Christmas (see post tomorrow if you would like to see them). Then inspiration struck...I used the music sheet on the sketch and really liked the results. I liked it so much I made 3 cards using the same sketch and vellum music sheet.

Some extra inspiration came from all the snowflakes we were making to decorate the house. I made this small snowflake from some blue vellum.

Weekly Recap

I don't know were the week has gone. We have been busy with school work and house work. We had some major family decisions going on with our adoption, so that took up so much time worrying, thinking and praying. Unfortunately, we are once again waiting for a referral.

One nightly activity we have been enjoying is making snowflakes. The boys have really gotten into it and now many of our doorways are covered in beautiful creations. Here's our patio door:

When we started this project it was still warm (for December) and not a flake of snow was in the air. But two days ago that all started to change. We got about an inch or two of snow. It's on the grass, but you can still see the grass peeking through. The temperature has made the greatest change. It went from the 40-50s to the teens. With the crazy strong wind it's been below zero. That's winter in Michigan! Hope you all keep warm...

Monday, December 7, 2009

17 Again...Revisited

Welcome to the 17 Again...revisited train...If you came from Sara's blog I hope your enjoying the journey in time. If this is your first stop on the train, then let me give you some background. This train is on it's second journey. Our first journey took us back to when we were 17. We had a list of questions that we had to answer as if we were 17 again. My answer and layout are at this post. This journey brings us back to today where we will answer the same questions based on our lives now.

  • My hair style is...straight, highlights to cover the grey
  • My "fashionable" item is...jeans and t-shirt or sweat shirt.
  • I drive
  • On a Saturday I school, grocery store, son's bed!
  • Monday-Friday I kids schools, to gym, work, stores...anywhere life needs me.
  • My best friends is...this is hard...I have a lot of good friends but not one that is best.
  • My favorite subject...Art
  • My favorite place to hang out...Scrapbook Table, Kids Room
  • When I grow up I want design work from my home
  • My favorite drink...water and coffee
  • My favorite food...Homemade Soup, Roasted Chicken
  • My favorite band...Linken Park
  • My favorite TV show...Biggest Loser
  • I recently saw...New Moon
  • I wish I could visit...Europe
  • I am reading...The Pursuit of Happiness
  • One thing I want to do but can't...go to school full time
Something just never change...but luckily some do, like big hair. The next leg of the journey will take you over to Gen's blog "brought to you by the letter B". Enjoy learning more about Gen and stop by again soon.


The smell of baking cookies. It just makes your mouth water and puts about 5 pounds on my hips without even eating one! I love baking cookies. Most years I will make around 10 different kinds. I know this might sound crazy but it was hard to just pick a few. Plus, I wanted to make sure my son, who has severe food allergies, had a good variety to pick from. This year I decided to cut down - a lot. Why? a couple of reasons.

  1. I eat too many cookies when I make 10 different kinds
  2. I just don't have the time to bake for three or four days plus decorating time
  3. I think just a few special ones will do just fine
So this year I just did 4 different kinds.

Cookie 1 - Russian Tea Cookie (diary, egg and nut free)

This recipe is from a wonderful website called Food Allergy Mama. All her recipes are Dairy, Egg and Nut free and they are so delicious. I rolled these in corn-free powder sugar from Allergy Grocer.

Cookie 2 - Basic Sugar Cut Out Cookies

We will have a decorating party in the next few days so I'll show you the decorated cookies when I have them done.

Cookie 3 - Raspberry Oatmeal Bars (diary, egg and nut free)

Another wonderful recipe from the Food Allergy Mama.

Cookie 4 - Chocolate Biscotti

My favorite cookie. I use to make them with toffee pieces, but stopped because of our son's nut allergy. But they are just as yummy with just chocolate. I use the Enjoy Life Brand Chips. They are nut, diary and corn free. These are just perfect with a cup of your favorite hot beverage.

As the holidays get closer I will make more; we usually run out of the biscotti's really fast. I will also bake some traditional German bread. So my baking is not done, but I made a good start and I'm ready for any early celebrations.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Tag 4 & 5 - 12 Tags of Christmas

I stayed up late last night to get caught up on my tags. Tag 4 is a collage tag. I used a Tim Holtz's fragment for the Jingle all the way charm. Don't you love the little jingle bells...I just think they are so cute.

Tag 5 - I used the fragments again to make the little presents.


One thing that I look forward to each holiday are the wonderful movies that we only watch during this time of year. Some of my favorites I've been watching since I was a little girl, others are newer to my list of favorites. Here's my top 10 list of my favorite holiday movies:

  1. A Christmas Story
  2. Elf
  3. It's a Wonderful Life
  4. A Year without a Santa Claus
  5. A Christmas Carol
  6. The Grinch that Stole Christmas
  7. Miracle on 34th Street
  8. Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer
  9. Frosty the Snowman
  10. Santa Claus is coming to Town

What movie(s) do you have to see every year?

Saturday, December 5, 2009


Today was the big day...writing letters to Santa! It's the deadline for changing your mind and putting your wishes in writing. My little guys wish stayed the same - a Leapfrog Leapster 2. My middle guy surprised me and changed his usually wish for Legos to Spore for the Wii. My big guy has been changing his mind everyday, sometimes twice a day, so I was curious what he would put down. His wish World of Zoods, Battle of giant dragons - I have no idea what this is! But I'm sure Santa knows.

As for me, my wish is Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince DVD. I hope you read this Santa!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Tag 3 - 12 Tags of Christmas

It's amazing I've actually have done some tags each day! It has been so much fun just getting out my supplies and just playing. These tags were so much fun because the backgrounds were a blast to make but also because I didn't have a lot of the tools that Tim was using so I had to just dig through my stash and make it up as I went....hope you like the results.


The boys always want to do art work, especially when I'm working on my projects. So every year I buy a wooden ornament from the craft store for them to color. This year we had a snowman, reindeer and a cup of hot cocoa. It's fun seeing how their creative talents grow each year.

In past years we were more ambitious with our crafting projects. See this post to see our Christmas trees made out of buttons. This was a great craft to use up all those buttons in your stash, but it was also a good lesson in sorting colors.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Tag 2 - 12 Tags of Christmas


Just a check post to show you my second tag of the 12 tags of Christmas....Enjoy!


I know Advent calendars start on December 1, but this year we were off by one day. Ken surprised the boys with Advent Calendars from Germany. (I think he wanted the chocolate eggs.) So the boys were allowed to open the first box the day they received their gifts. So yesterday they were able to resume open the calendars.

Normally we have one calendar for the family, but this year we have three - 2 Germany Kinder Uberraschung Calendars and 1 Lego Calendar. I have to say I love both of these calendars. I grew up on the German chocolate eggs - so this brings back memories of the fun we had getting these from our Oma and Opa. And I love the Lego one because it's Lego!

What was/is your favorite type of Advent calendar? Do you go for the activity based or the treat based?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


It's amazing how many boxes we have marked with Xmas. I didn't need to workout yesterday because I did enough lifting and stairs to count as a "good burn".

Even though it's so much work to get everything upstairs - I do enjoy decorating for the holidays. I get so much joy unwrapping all the treasures that have been buried away all year.

I did set aside a few minutes (okay more than a few) to get crafty. Here's tag one inspired by Tim Holtz's 12 tags of Christmas. I had so much fun playing. I'm going to try to do all 12 tags this come back for a look.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Yippeee!! Today is the first day of December. This is exciting for many reasons. One reason is that it's the start of Tim Holtz's 12 Tags of Christmas! If you never seen the wonderful creations that Tim makes check it out at his blog....Happy December.

Monday, November 30, 2009

17 Again

Welcome to the 17 Again train...If you came from Sara's blog I hope your enjoying the journey in time. If this is year first stop on the train, then let me give you some background. This train is a time travel journey. Each member of the train is going back to the time they were 17. We have a set list of questions to answer and we will be using photos or layouts to show off our style! Should be very interesting! This leg of your journey will take you to 1987-88. The time of big hair, skin tight pants, and new wave music!!

This was my senior year in high school and my first year of college. A time of huge changes in my life. I picked 17 of the questions to share with you today...

  • My hair style is...big bangs - or what we now like to call poodle hair.
  • My "fashionable" item is...just like now I'm was not that into clothing so I normal wore my skinny jeans and a polo shirt.
  • I drive a...Chevy Chevette. I recieve this car as a graduation present from my parents.
  • On a Saturday I where special. I hung out at my house, my boyfriends house or went to practice.
  • Monday-Friday I go...I went to school early for Pom-Pom team practice, then to school. After school it was either Track, drill team or marching band practice.
  • My best friends is...Diane, Lisa, Renee, Becky, Nancy (I'm still good friends with this ladies today).
  • My favorite subject...Math
  • My favorite place to hang bedroom
  • When I grow up I want for Disney
  • My favorite drink...Pepsi
  • My favorite food...Junk
  • My favorite band...B-52s
  • My favorite TV show...Family Ties
  • I recently saw...Dirty Dancing - just loved this movie, watched it almost every day
  • I wish I could visit...Europe
  • I am reading...Nine Princes of Amber by Roger Zelancy
  • One thing I want to do but can't...go away to school
Back to hair is not so big and my jeans are not so tight. I hope you enjoyed a pick of 1987/88 as I viewed my life. The next leg of the journey will take you back to 1994, so head on over to Gen's blog "brought to you by the letter B". Enjoy the blast from the past and stop by again soon.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Muppets on YouTube

Something funny to brighten your weekend.... If you loved the muppet show growing up you will enjoy this...

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thanksgiving Memories

Thanksgiving is just around the corner. I've made my menu, shopped, started now all I have to do is cook, bake and roast.

I was on a message board the other day and the discussion was about Thanksgiving crafts. Normally, I don't do much in the line of crafts for Thanksgiving but one of the idea really stuck with me. (I'm sorry, but I don't remember who's idea or what board I was on to give credit). The idea was cards to write what you are thankful for - the twist was that they were ABC cards.

In the past I've cut out leaves or handed out little pieces of paper for people to write what they are thankful for and I would get the typical, friends, health. Don't get me wrong I'm thankful for those things too, but they are a given. Don't you think? With the ABC cards you have to think outside the box. You have to write something that starts with the letter on the card. So here is what the cards look like:
I used the free kit eloquent autumn from 2 Peas for everything but the thankful for... font, which is CK Elegant. The journaling lines were just drawn by hand.

I made the cards the size of playing cards. That way I can put them in a card holder page and just put them in my album behind my thanksgiving layout and use some for embellishments. It will be interesting to see what people come up with...especially for X, Y and Z.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Blog Around The World

Greetings all the blog around the world travelers and other visitors too!! Welcome to the lovely state of Michigan, USA. Alright lovely is pushing it this time of year - but to have the four seasons sometime you need not so sunny days. It's starting to get cold, damp and dreary - as the photo from my kitchen window shows.

That just means the freezing cold, ice and snow are right around the corner. And that is perfect weather to enjoy the warmth and peacefulness in my craft room.

I've been cleaning and organizing to get ready for some serious work. So be ready to see some craftiness coming soon.

I hope you enjoyed your visit to the great state of Michigan. On your next leg of your journey you will be heading to another lovely part of Michigan. So fastened you seat-beats and stop on by at the bright and energetic blog of Margi's and say hi for me!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Blog Around The World

Join me and 39 other bloggers from Shimelle's Blogging for Scrapbookers class on Saturday, November 21, starting at 4 p.m. EST for a trip around the world. We will be taking you on a blog train of what we see outside our window this time of year. Some might even surprise us with a photo of their crafting area. So come travel around the world without the expense or jet lag!! Mark your calendars for this Saturday....and have a safe trip!

Learning from Life

Yesterday my youngest son's teacher pulled me aside because she wanted to tell me something funny that my son has been doing. She told me that if the other kids are whining about something he will look at them and say "I'm tired of listening to that, please stop." Or if they are saying they can not do something like turn on the light he will say "Yes you can, you just have to try."

I had to laugh, not because of what he was saying, but because that was me talking. I say things like this quite often. It's amazing the little things our children pick up from us...both good and bad. This got me thinking – what have I learned from my past?

I know I have certain saying or ways of doing things that I learned from my parents, but what have I learned from myself. We learn from our mistakes and we learn from past experiences, so what have I learned in the last year.

I looked back at some of my post from a year ago and it was very eye opening. Here are the things I noticed and what I've learned

  • I didn't blog much. Looking back I realize how amazing the old blog post are in documenting the little things that get lost in the day to day. I learned that even a small post is worth alot.

  • I wrote down some goals I had as a child. Looking back I realized I started working towards two of those goals this past year - I'm working on getting fit (on going) and I went back to school. I learned that it's important to write down your goals so you don't forget what you want from life and it's okay to change those goals.

  • I took classes, both on-line and at local stores, to help with my creativity. Looking back I realized how motivating these classes are. I learned that I need to take the time to learn new techniques or take challenges to keep my creativity moving forward. (Thanks Shimelle for the Blogging for Scrapbooking Class and Jessica for the Holiday in Hand class to help get me going again.)

What have you learned from your past mistakes? What funny things have your kids learned from you?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Got Crafty Today

It's been a busy last few days but I made some time to get some cards done. The first card is based on the 2 Sketches 4 You sketch this week:

This card was based on the bonus sketch at 2 sketches 4 you:

This card was based on the A Year in Cards class at 2Peas:

Have a wonderful day!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Holiday in Hand

The holidays are right around the corner. What's the first word that pops in your head after reading that?
fear, panic, stress or something like joy, peace and fun.
I have to admit, depending on the day I can feel any of these words and usually more than one at a time. This year I'm taking a wonderful new class over at Jessica Sprauge's playground called Holidays in Hand to help me record both the past and present memories of our holidays. I'm hoping this will help me focus more on the positive aspects of my holidays, rather then the negative.

One goal I have is to help my family focus more on the "non-tangible" things of the holidays. I'm tired of the "give-me's" and the "I-want's". The pile of gifts that are opened and discarded without a care. It was sad watching this every year.

To help ease into this new way of thinking, I decided last year to make a change in our gift giving. The boys were told to expect only three gifts under the tree from mom and dad. Why three? That was the amount given at the first Christmas. We brake the gifts down into three groups:

Gold - the item most desired (within reason)
Frankincense - an item we can share as a family (i.e. movie or game)
Mirth - an item that is practical (usually clothing)

At first the boys were upset because they "would not get anything" for Christmas, but those items had so much more meaning to them, that they forgot to complain on Christmas morning.

I still get the long wish list and I hear "I want that" after every commercial, but the boys know to be wise on what they ask for because they will not get everything on their lists. I know over time the boys will learn to enjoy the non-tangible things that the holidays bring to us.

What do you do to help with the "give-me's" in your home? I'd love to know.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Weekend Recap

We had a full and fun weekend.

We went to a free movie at a local Golf Club Banquet Hall. They were showing Ice Age 3. We won the raffle they were having and won a copy of UP! The boys were so excited; they really like that movie. Also, suddenly during the movie Kyle got very excited - he lose a tooth. This tooth had been hanging on for weeks, so it was a big deal that it finally came out.
I didn't go to school today because Ken was still out of town. We took a drive to a local High School were they were having the Lego Robotics Competition. We stopped by our schools table to say hi and then spent some time watching the competition. The boys are really looking forward to when they are old enough to be a part of the team. When we got home the boys helped me clean the inside of the car and it was such a beautiful day, so we spent some time outside playing. Of course, we watched UP! after dinner.
It's our day to do homework. We did our typically to do items - change bed sheets, vacuum, put away toys. Today I always moved around my desk in the office/craft room. I've been meaning to do this and I'm so glad I did. It just seems to open the room up more.

The big news today.......I made the FAB 5 at 2 sketches 4 you. I'm so geeked. This is the first time one of my cards has made it to that level. Thanks 2 sketches for the honor!!

I hope everyone else had a FAB weekend too!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Got Crafty...

Happy Saturday!

Just a quick post to share a few cards that I did yesterday...Enjoy!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Play Time...

Have you ever had one of those days were your kid will not leave your side for a second? Okay, I know that's a stupid questions...of course you have had more then one day like that. But, I figured they would out grow that to a certain extent. Yesterday, was one of those days for me. My little guy just could not be away from me and just kept begging me to play with him in the basement. Now don't get me wrong I play with my children, but I'm also very task driven and today I had a long list of things I needed to get done. That list went out the window as soon as those big blue eyes looked up at me and said "Please play shop with me." Who needs clean underwear anyways?

First, we had to separate all the food into the food groups.

Then, he brought me the ice cream bowl --- no bread basket here!

Next, he made my order. I have no idea were he got some of his combination's - (egg juice, tomato and bread smoothie anyone!)

His big smile says it all. The laundry can wait another day, this was all worth it.

Holiday Spirit

The holidays are upon us, whether we like it or not. To most people the holidays mean stress, unless list of what to buy, make and cook, more stress, more list and stress. This is how the holidays can get when the meaning gets lost in all the craziness that the commercial world tries to thrush on all of us, especially our children. Believe me I'm so guilty of this problem. When things get out of hand I pull out this layout:

I made this layout a few years back when I went to CKU-Detroit. I'm happy to say it won for best journaling - a huge shock for someone that is not considered a good writer. But I think that what I wrote really helps me keep the holidays into perspective and I try to think about it when I start to feel the stress monster trying to take over. Here's what I wrote:

My first memory of this photo was when I was about 7 years old. I could tell by the tree in the background that it was Christmas time, but I couldn't understand why everyone looked so sad. When I asked my mom about this she explained that it was during the war. It was a scary time. The didn't have much, and they lived with daily air raids and Nazi's in town. They always had to cover all the windows with heavy, dark blankets so no light would be seen from the outside. Their lives consisted of things like air raids, out houses, one-room schoolhouses, Nazi's, and war. I could not relate.

Then her eyes lit up as she pointed to the doll. "You see that doll. It was my favorite. I got her every year for Christmas with a new outfit." To a 7 year old, that was a very strange comment. To get the same small doll every year, and be happy with it, was she crazy? At Christmas, I expected a tree surrounded by presents, and not the same ones as last year.
Now that I'm older and have my own children, I look very differently at this picture. I wish I could teach my children the sory the picture tells. Christmas is not measured by the amount of presents you get, or if you received the latest gizmo or the coolest techno toy. It's about family. About being safe. It's knowing that someone loves you enough to make a new outfit for your favorite doll. I don't see sadness in the picture now. I see the love and pride it took a family to get through the hard times of war, and the joy that Christmas time brought to them.
I see the true meaning of Christmas.

The grey text says die zutreffende Bedeutung von Weihnachten; which is the true meaning of Christmas in German.

The picture was taken in 1944 in German.

Well, I'm in tears now from re-typing the journaling. My kids thing I'm crazy, but this really makes me grateful for what I have and everything my parents and grandparents had to live through.

What helps you keep your sanity during the busy holiday season? I would love to know.