Thursday, August 28, 2014

Happy Birthday to My Youngest Brother, Mark

Today would have marked the 27th birthday of my youngest brother Mark. Mark passed away just a few short years after Joey, and every time I think about Joey I think about Mark. They were the best of friends. And Joey adored Mark (all of my kids do). While losing my brother was more painful that I really have words to describe, there is comfort in knowing that both my son and my brother now have each other in heaven.

Mark was an incredible kid and adult. Despite facing numerous health challenges and physical ailments, he completely embraced life. He loved to laugh. He had a healthy sense of humor. His eyes always had this mischievous sparkle. He loved video games and on his own studied a great deal on game design and programming. He was beyond smart and could connect the dots on things way above my head. He was kind and loved babies. When he first met my youngest, James, he instantly bonded with him. He was gentle with animals and had a kitten that loved to curl up on his neck and back to sleep.

Mark didn't express his feelings a lot. I would often tease him and tell him I loved him. Typically all I got was a grunt in return, and it always made me laugh.

My husband Brett considers Mark one of his very best friends. He always said that Mark always got him and accepted him for who he was. Losing Mark was a huge blow to Brett, and he misses him just as much as I do.

Mark never complained even when he should have. He spent so much time in the hospital or at home feeling sick. But he would never really express how he was feeling. He just kind of endured it. I always admired his strength, but I often wished I could do more to ease his suffering.

Mark touched many lives. People loved him. People were drawn to him. And he could command the room. He was both quiet and yet larger than life.

From the time he was born to the time he passed, he was a huge influence on my life and taught me about patience, love for others, dedication and passion to the things you love, how to laugh in the face of adversity, and how to live in the moment.

I miss him terribly. I love him like crazy. And I'm so proud to be his big sister. I look forward to the day when I get to see him again.

Happy birthday, Mark!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

What to Do in the Meantime . . .

I keep hoping that at some point I'll be able to share the progress we've made our home since moving in. I may have jinxed myself in thinking that as we are STILL waiting for the flooring installation to get started on the main floor. And our carpet made it all the way from the upstairs floor to the top of the stairs but didn't quite make it down the stairs. So currently we're carefully wearing shoes so we don't step on the exposed carpet tacks on the stairs. I keep telling myself that all this will pass, and soon we'll be cooking in our currently non-existent kitchen, sleeping in our very own bedroom, and sitting on our still-in-storage couch. But in the meantime it's been very challenging to wander around not really knowing what I can and cannot start to unpack.

So thankfully I have my job to keep me occupied and busy during the days. The kidlings are at school. And the hubster is busy working in his new downstairs office "of glory" (as he puts it). But sometimes after a long day of little progress on the homefront, I need an escape of some kind. I was really happy to hear about this event at the Draper, Utah Ikea this weekend. What a fun opportunity to take the family to a place I already love to frequent! Plus who doesn't have an Ikea wishlist a mile long? I'm not sure I'm brave enough to bid on things (I am a little shy), but I'd love to try.

If you're in the area, consider attending this super cool event which is happening this weekend. Hopefully I can convince the husband this is exactly the kind of escape this stressed-out wife needs. (Think he'll go for it?)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Make It Meaningful: Altering a Composition Notebook

For today's tutorial I wanted to update an everyday composition notebook. Just in time for school, this fun project can be done within less than 30 minutes. Personalizing school supplies makes them even more special and makes returning to school a little more exciting.

For this project, I'm using the Echo Park Paper "Creative Agenda" collection. This fun collection includes water colored images and fun day-to-day stickers and elements. Perfect for school projects or Filofax decorations, I was excited to get started.

Getting Started: You will need paper, adhesive, stickers, embellishments and a composition book. You can alter any size of book, but keep in mind that a standard size notebook will require two sheets of 12x12" paper.

Step 1: Trace the front (and back) of the composition notebook onto the backside of the patterned paper you wish to use.

Step 2: Use scissors to cut out the paper for both the front and back of the book.

Step 3: Use double-sided sticky tape or your favorite adhesive to attach the paper to the front and back of the book.

Step 4: Add paper, stickers, ribbon and any other embellishments you desire to the front of the book. Keep in mind how the book will be used. If the book will be shoved in a locker, you might want to consider keeping elements flat and then later sealing everything with Modge Podge. In this case, I kept things dimensional.

Here is the completed project again. You can use these same instructions and a different combination of papers, stickers, and embellishments to create an entirely new look.

Did you enjoy this project? Consider shopping from the list below when creating your next project. Purchases made with the links below help to pay for the projects I share here on my blog.

You can also find more "Make It Meaningful" projects like this Halloween Countdown Calendar HERE and a die cut birthday gift box HERE. Search in my sidebar for additional projects under this heading.

Products for this project can be found here:
* Creative Agenda Collection Kit
* Creative Agenda Arrows Decorative Tape
* Creative Agenda Element Stickers
* Creative Agenda 4x6 Stamps
* Creative Agenda Die and Stamp Set
* Creative Agenda Enamel Shapes
* Creative Agenda Flair Badges

Monday, August 25, 2014

Free Fall Printable

In case you haven't already had a chance to download this, I wanted to share it with you. It's a fall printable available with either a white or cream background. You can find more about this post HERE on my blog.

(NOTE: the brown outline is just so you can see the dimensions of the printable. It will not print out on the final page.)

Download the white background version HERE!

Download the cream background version HERE!

Here's what the printables look like framed and displayed:

I love the look of printables and how easy they are to change out with the seasons. Look for other printables HERE and HERE and HERE on my blog.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The First and Second Day of School

As I mentioned yesterday, it's been a little chaotic around these parts lately. So when the first day of school starts bright and early with lots of rain, a parent just might miss their child going off to their Senior year of high school. Yeah. That totally happened. While I was busy getting ready, the older child had to leave for school, and I missed it! I was so sad. But she's practically a grown up and drives herself to school, so I wasn't worried just sad. But it did mean that I missed any chance of taking her photo on the first day of school. But here's my beautiful girl on the second day of high school:

James started a new school this year. I have been more than a little worried. But I needn't have. His most interesting observation after the first day? "The kids part down the middle of the hall into two rows so I can pass. They do this for all the sixth graders." I think he's enjoying being the big man on campus.

This year marks the end of some things. The end of my daughter being in school (well, except for college). The end of my son going to Elementary School. It's going to be an epic year as we prepare ourselves for some big changes.

Frankly, I'm just grateful they both enjoy their schools and their teachers. That's all a mama can hope for.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Tales of a Tract Home: The Waiting Game is Nearly Over

I can hardly believe that today is our last full day in this townhome. This temporary living situation has been both a blessing and an interesting adventure. We are so deeply grateful that we were able to live here rather than in a hotel. I cannot imagine the logistics of both Brett and I working in a hotel room, while attempting to care for and entertain two rather bored children. Finding this place was nothing short of a miracle.

Tomorrow we are hoping to move into our home: the kids into their rooms and us into the basement until the flooring is removed.

While I never imagined the pathway this moving journey would take I've observed a few things:

* I don't do well with change. I've been nearly paralyzed in our current situation, and it makes me wish for a better way to adapt to change.
* We all need our own space. Thankfully this townhome did have a place for all of us; although, Brett, Katelyn, and I were all sharing the downstairs making for a very busy office space.
* I don't care for "mystery smells." Both the townhome and the new house carry their own unique mystery smells. I HATE it. It affects the way I feel, and I'm always going on a search to discover where the smell is coming from. Thankfully we believe that updating the floors in our new home will help with at least that mystery smell. Fingers crossed!
* My kids and husband are incredible. This has NOT been easy. It's been chaotic, unsettling, up and down, disappointing, exciting, and so much more. That they have all been as patient as possible and even helpful and kind just speaks volume to the quality of their personalities. I'm really grateful for their attitude about the entire experience.
* I am totally out of shape. The first couple of moves we made, my sweet husband was out of the state starting his new job. That meant packing, loading, and many of the tasks fell to me. Not this time. It's been almost completely on Brett's shoulders this time around. I'm exhausted, worn out, stressed out, and just tired all the time. I've been less help than I'd like to be. Again, I'm grateful for his patience. I'm realizing that moving at 20 is completely different than moving at 40. It's definitely harder.
* I am not creative in a chaotic situation. Trying to work my full-time job in the creative industry has been exceedingly challenging with our moving situation. I wasn't able to unpack here in the townhome. I couldn't film while Brett or the kids were around. I have no idea where half of my craft room is. It certainly isn't conducive to making beautiful things. It's ok. Soon I will be able to create an entirely new space. And I'm thoroughly looking forward to having my own place, with its own door, and everything at my fingertips again.
* We have good friends and family. We've had so many offers of help. Brett and I aren't good at accepting it. I realize that. It's just so hard to burden other people, and I feel like we've done that enough to last a lifetime. But our good friends and family continue to offer. I really, really love them all.
* I'm ready to be done. I'm ready to never see another packing box again. I'm ready to know where my pots and pans are located. I'm ready for the kids to return to regular sleeping schedules in their own beds and bedrooms. I'm ready to start making my new house a home.

Here's hoping that the next part of the journey is filled with good things. The waiting game is nearly over!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Six Back-To-School Paper Crafting Ideas

Today marks the last day of summer for us. It's the first summer that I can recall being ready for the kids to go back. With the craziness of our move, I think it will be good for them to make new friends and settle back into a more structured routine. To celebrate (or at least acknowledge) that tomorrow is school, I thought I'd share a few "Back-To-School" items I've shared in the past here on my blog. Be sure to pin your favorites!

Create a Back-to-School album (includes start-to-finish video) HERE.

Create a card and matching treat box for either the teacher or your student on their first day HERE (includes start-to-finish video).

Print out and frame this FREE printable to start school HERE.

Give the teacher a thank you card with this FREE printable available for download HERE.

Get started on teacher appreciation gifts early with two projects shown HERE including this stamped chalkboard frame.

Decorate backpacks and paper lunch bags in this fun tutorial HERE.

I have lots of back-to-school ideas HERE in my Pinterest board if you're looking for additional ideas. I pin new items to the board from time-to-time to consider following it if you like the ideas that you see.