Page swap, part two.

What struck me most about the page Adriane made for me was how much Elecia and I look alike. People say that all the time, and we've often been mistaken for twins, but I never really think about the similarities until I see pictures of us together. We even have basically the same haircut at the same time. Weird. Also, we both used to be skinny. *sigh*

The page Elecia made for me cracks me up. The song lyrics she used couldn't be more apt. Our family photo album contains countless pictures of me scowling. Snapshots, school photos, professional family groupings, doesn't matter. I'm frowning in probably 85% of all photos taken of me from age 10 through...well...ever. Somehow everyone in my family seemed satisfied to believe "grouchiness" was just part of my personality. Looking back, I'm pretty sure that little girl was screaming "HAND OVER THE PROZAC," probably in utero. Okay. Moving forward.

Finally, we have the page I received from Libby, who graciously humors the other three of us every year by taking part in our page swap even though she doesn't particularly like scrapbooking. She's generally too busy cheering and myspacing and practicing driving and doing all manner of teenager-y things instead. But I love this page because that's almost exactly what I thought when I saw that picture of the two of us. Holy hell, she's gotten SO tall! I knew she was bound to be taller than me, but at 15?! For seriously? Couldn't I have a few more years of height advantage?! In my defense, she WAS wearing heels and I didn't have any shoes on. So there. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Thank you, sweet sisters, for the pages. I love you guys. :)


Page swap.

Time to share the pages I made for my sisters this year:

For Adriane, my favorite picture of the two of us taken this year on our trip to Covered Bridge Festival in Indiana. She doesn't often get to come along with us, so this day was special.

For Elecia, I knew I had to bust out the floonfification, so I used this blingy frame I'd been saving and some glitter. Pictures of Z demand glitter.

I also did a bit of sewing here, though it doesn't show up much in the picture. Eliot had a blast helping me sew. I let him push the foot pedal on my machine and told him when to start and stop. He's been begging to sew again ever since. :)

For Libby, I included plenty of reminders about driving safely, which she didn't even roll her eyes at! Or at least, I didn't catch her rolling her eyes. She may well have done it when my back was turned.

Tomorrow, I'll show you the pages they made for me. Yes, girls?! Yes!


My gingerbread house decorating skills can best be described as "tragic."

Luckily, my 2-yr-old doesn't notice or care. He still thinks I'm pretty cool. Probably because I let him "glue" the giant green gumdrops, which I suspect were meant to suggest shrubbery, to the top of the gingerbread roof.
Ah, the unearned, undeserved admiration of a child.
How many years can I expect THAT to last, do you think? ;)


Little man meets the big man.

My only agenda for this past weekend was to take Mog to see Santa. As it turned out, we ended up trekking back to the old hometown, so we were able to visit Santa with dear cousins M & Z. Mog was ridiculously excited about this, as Z is his second favorite person in the entire universe (after PaPa, of course. PaPa drives a tractor, and it's hard to top that).

Santa had been the topic of much conversation in our house for the past week leading up to the big visit. I had thought several times over the last few years about whether Eli and I would perpetuate the Santa myth with Eliot. I was leaning towards not, because frankly, the idea of lying to my kid just leaves a sour taste in my mouth. But earlier this month, something changed my mind.

On the occasion of the first snow of the season, the little man was captivated by the gently blowing flakes. He asked me, as we drove through the snow on the way to daycare that day, "Momma, where does snow come from?" And, in keeping with my policy of honesty and high regard for science and academic inquiry, I began explaining about precipitation and freezing points...and the long-winded answer I gave him wasn't satisfying to either of us. He nodded his head, and said, "Oh. I see." But in the car by myself on the way home, gazing into the snow as it danced in the air and melted against my windshield, I keenly felt that something was missing. I wished I had told him I didn't really know where snow comes from. That it's just magic.

After this day, however, I still hadn't fully decided on the answer to the Santa conundrum. For some reason, I didn't really think it would come up (dumb, right?!). As you can probably imagine, my observant, bright little boy had not watched a smattering of Christmas special cartoons and read book after book featuring the jolly old St. Nick, only NOT to have questions about Santa Claus. One night, as I was rocking him before bedtime, he cautiously inquired, "Momma, can we talk about Santa?"

I laughed and said, "Sure. We can talk about Santa."

And I listened to myself begin telling him about an old man with a twinkle in his eye and a stomach that shakes like a bowl full of jelly. I told him about the filling of stockings and reindeer that fly. I asked him what he thought he would like Santa to bring to our house, and without a moment's hesitation, he replied, "A tractor! And a combine, and corn, and beans!" And when Eliot laid down in his new big boy bed to sleep that night, he was smiling. As I pulled the covers up to his chin and shut out his light, I was smiling too.

So on Saturday, we headed to the little community center where Santa was perported to be making an appearance, and Eliot was all psyched to ask him for a tractor, a combine, and corn and beans. Z had defiantly declared that she was NOT sitting on Santa's lap--she would stand next to him, if she MUST, but that was as much as she was willing to concede. M rode along with no sense of anticipation, just smiling and sticking out her tongue as she is wont to do.

When we arrived, Eliot's former confidence flagged. He announced a last-minute change in plans, as he declared he was going to ask Santa for a Barbie, rather than the farming implements on which he'd been so lately ruminating. When his turn came, Eliot let himself be lifted onto this bearded stranger's lap, but sat there silently wringing his hands. Santa asked him if he had been a good boy this year. No reply. He asked if Eliot was ready for Christmas. No reply. More hand wringing. Santa asked if Eliot had thought about what he wanted for Christmas. I squatted down next to my son expectantly, but there was no reply. I prodded him, "Eliot? Can you tell Santa what you'd like him to bring?" He nodded his head and the smallest whisper escaped his lips. "A tractor."

After a few more quick pleasantries from Santa, I lifted Eliot off his lap and we retired to the side of the room to receive our treat bag and watch Z and M take their turns.

Not about to be outdone by a 2-year-old, Z marched up to Santa Claus and sat right on his lap. Uncle G placed M on Santa's right knee, and both girls grinned as I moved in to photograph them.

Z had some trouble deciding just what to ask for (possibly as she had already written the whole Santa experience off and was making it clear that she was only meeting the big man to appease her eager parents). Uncle G offered suggestion after suggestion, but Z couldn't bring herself to commit to anything. Until "Baby Alive," where he struck gold. Z quickly nodded her head up and down; oh yes, Baby Alive would be just the thing.

M was a bit perplexed about the whole situation, but seemed to conclude that if Eliot and Z were enjoying themselves, then it must be okay, so she grinned and stuck her tongue out like mad.

After all, there were cameras there to be charmed. ;)

So all in all, the visit was a success and all three kiddos were incredibly brave. I don't believe we have any photos of my sisters or I sitting on Santa's lap when we were young, and for good reason. He's a stranger. A fat stranger in a beard. Creepy, people. Creepy. When I was that age, I would not have unwound myself from my mother's purse strap long enough to give Santa Claus a passing glance. And even though I don't exactly want to encourage the kids to be okay with climbing up onto the laps of creepy strangers and accepting candy from them, really, I was proud of their bravery.

In these days leading up to Christmas, in anticipation of waking up that morning with Mog and watching his eyes light up as he explores what treasures await in his stocking, I am glad we talked about Santa. I am glad I didn't tell him that flying reindeer are wishful thinking or that Fisher-Price, not elves, manufacture toys. I am glad I didn't tell him that Santa is really just a metaphor for the holiday spirit of giving and of love. I'm glad I didn't tell him that. Instead, I told him the truth: Santa is magic.


2009: The year of the dreamer.

The best thing about heading into a new year is getting a new planner. A fresh planner, full of blank days and months and weeks just waiting patiently to be filled. White lined pages. Calendars. Ah, bliss.

Last year I searched and searched for the perfect planner, and finally purchased this beauty from ArtClub. It had everything I was looking for--week at a glance spreads with plenty of room to jot appointments, shopping lists, to-do lists, a pocket for accumulation of various paper debris, monthly calendars, coloring pages to stave off boredom, and lists to fill out to satisfy even the most professional procrastinator. My favorite feature of 2009: The Year of the Dreamer, however, was the Uberlist. The Uberlist, according its creators, is "your master plan for 2009." How does one compose an uberlist, you might ask?

"Compile a list of 109 (because it's '09) little goals to zazz up the coming year. Unlike traditional, puritanical Resolutions, (dour, harrowing and grotesque), the Uberlist should contain mostly wee and pleasant tasks you can accomplish with haste."

In true Rachel "Shewhoiscontinuallystartingprojectsonlytoabandonthembeforecompletion" form, I began compiling my Uberlist last year, but never finished it (even though one of the tasks I listed was to "finish compiling my Uberlist"). But it was fun, and it did lead me to accomplish several small goals and try new things that I had always wanted to try but never gotten around to. Of the 70 tasks I listed for myself, I have completed 41.

Some of these tasks were things I'd never done before but always wanted to, like get a pedicure, see Tori Amos in concert, drink a cosmopolitan. Done, done, and done! :)

Others came under the category of things I wanted to do, but was hesitant about for one reason or another: find my brother's grave, donate books to Sigma Tau Delta, drive to Chicago by myself! Again, done, done, and done!

Some of the tasks were experiences that have become tradition, that I wanted to make sure I repeated this year, like watch fireworks on the Fourth of July and visit a pumpkin patch in the fall.

Still others were activities I had taken part in before, but not since I was a kid. This year (maybe since I was turning 30) I wanted to recapture some of that childhood magic: ride a ferris wheel, go miniature golfing, go skating, go bowling, fly a kite, pick apples, complete a jigsaw puzzle.

All of the items on my list were things I WANTED to do, not things I thought I should do. I tried to make it not about obligation, but about growth and personal discovery.

I will admit, I cheated.

I added more than one item to the list only after I had already accomplished it. At that point, the list became a record of what I've done this year--things I never imagined myself doing, or perhaps didn't even know I wanted to do until I was there, in the moment. A few of my after-the-fact additions included meeting Heather Armstrong of Dooce, attending Renegade Craft Fair, eating Indian food (ohmyfreakingyummy!).

My Uberlist has also been an exercise in letting go. Some of the things I listed, I will probably never do or have. And that's alright. Where I was last year at this time, what I thought I wanted, what I thought I needed...well, 2009 reshaped a lot of that for me.

I just went online and purchased ArtClub's 2010 planner. I'm looking forward to filling in a new Uberlist this year. Who knows, maybe in 2010 I'll actually make a quilt or get a new remote for the garage door opener. Maybe I'll plant a garden and finish reading The Brothers Karamazov.

Then again...
At least I'm quite sure I'll drink a few more cosmos and get another pedicure. ;)


Some assembly required.

Yesterday we reached what feels like the last milestone into little boyhood. We took the crib down. Last night, for the first time, Mog slept all night in his new "big boy" bed.

Long gone are the bottles, the pacifiers, and the diapers. Gone is the crib. Gone is the baby, and in his place is this amazing little boy whom we've come to call "Mog."

This boy draws pictures that are no longer all scribbles, pictures with lines for trees and circles for tractor tires, and elaborate backstories, which he explains to us in painstaking detail. ("This is the field, but the beans are combined, see? And there's a peacock in the field, and this is the house. We're inside the house looking at the peacock, and there's Pa Pa.") This boy gestures emphatically with his hands, and when you ask him if he wants a pickle, he rolls his eyes and sighs, "Of course." This boy sings along with the soundtrack to "Mighty Machines" and dances to Rammstein, and watches basketball with his dad.  He uses his blocks to build "parking garages" for his Matchbox cars and castles for an imaginary dragon to blow down. He works diligently at his kitchen set to cook "soup" for Mommy.

He's such a great helper that last night, as we were struggling to put together the new bed, he ran around stealing screws and sticking them in every hole he could find, hauling pieces out of the box and scattering them, and asking repeatedly, excitedly, "Time for the ladders? Is it time for the ladders now?" He jumped on my back as I sat bent over the partially assembled footboard and yelled in my ear while pulling on my hair, "TIME FOR THE LADDERS NOW, MOMMY?"
(The "ladders" were little half guard rails that were supposed to attach to the sides of the toddler bed. I say "supposed to" because Eli and I managed to screw the bedframe together upside down, so that the holes for the guard rails were on the bottom of the bed, pointing down towards the floor. Oops. So no guard rails.)

With Mog running around like an insane Christmas elf, me trying to read and relay directions, and Eli holding the wooden pieces together amid the chaos of Eliot's toy cars and scattered blocks, it's a wonder that we all survived the assembly of the bed. We finished screwing together the footboard only to realize that I had overlooked the existence of these little spacers that were supposed to fit down into the holes and prevent the slats from moving. So, we unscrewed everything, removed all six slats, poked the forgotten spacers down into the holes, and reassembled the footboard. And then had to unscrew every piece of the headboard, which we had also already finished, and insert spacers into its slats as well.

I could continue to chronicle every mishap, every disassembling and reassembling that took place, every wrong screw, every piece screwed in backwards, but let me just abbreviate a bit and say: the three of us do not work together well as a team. We inevitably come into a project with different ideas about how the work is going to get done and what the end result is going to be. Our approaches are different and we have different strengths and weaknesses. I am insistent, and in a hurry, overlooking the bends in the path because I'm so focused on getting to the destination. Eli is anxious and focused on every slight misstep, unable to block out the distractions in order to move forward. Eliot is dangling off both our backs, screaming about LADDERS! WHEN IS IT GOING TO BE TIME FOR THE LADDERS?!

The important thing is that by the end of the evening, we had put together a bed. It wasn't perfect by any stretch of the imagination. It wasn't what all of us had imagined. It wasn't a Lightning McQueen racecar bed, or a Thomas the Tank Engine sleeper car. Hell, it didn't even have LADDERS! But it was a bed fit for sleeping, which is all we really needed, after all.  

At nine o'clock, Eliot stretched out in his new bed with Monkey Bob and Elmo, and we pulled the covers up to his chin and kissed him goodnight. And he slept there in the bed that the three of us had built, all night long.


Did I mention that he slept all night long?


The stockings weren't hung...

This year we had our Christmas tree up before Thanksgiving. We didn't decorate it or drag the rest of the holiday decorations out until the first of December, however. Last year was the first year we were in this house and the first year we had a fireplace, so I was (and am) pretty excited about decorating the mantel and hanging our stockings by the chimney with care. Except I won't be able to actually hang them until Christmas Eve. You see those reindeer and stars aways down the mantel, to the right? Those are our stocking hangers. They weigh approximately a jillion pounds, so I can just anticipate Mog grabbing the toe of a stocking and giving it a pull, only to knock himself out with a reindeer. Not a good scenario.

For now the reindeer and star will sit patiently with their little hooks waiting for the moment when a small boy goes to sleep on the eve of Christmas, waiting to hold four oversized socks stuffed to the brim with tiny treasures. Four. Yes, four. Eli, Rachel, Eliot, Mumford. (Mumford's stocking may be filled with coal this year, but he still gets one.)

The advent house I bought last year has been a BIG hit. The first thing Eliot wants to do each morning is open the window and see what's inside. We talk about what number today is and what do you think could be behind number eight? Number nine? What about fourteen? He is definitely most intrigued with the door. What could possibly be behind that door? He asks every morning if he can open the door. Nope, not today. Not today. Not today. The anticipation has been so much fun.

Behind each of the little windows is a different chocolate--some Hershey's kisses, Butterfinger bells, and little chocolate wrapped Santa Clauses.

I'm already thinking that for next year, rather than chocolate behind every window, I'll have slips of paper with activities, like "watch Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," or "drive around and look at Christmas lights," decorate Christmas cookies," etc. That's what I had originally planned for this year, but I wasn't prepared and just couldn't summon the energy. We have been trying to do something festive everyday, or at least just take some time in the evening to sit in the dark and look at the lights on our tree. It's a nice way to calm down and relax at the end of each day.

Now I suppose I need to find something really cool to put behind that door (!) The door and the upper window, 24 and 25, they're going to have to be something special, now that he's all into the whole concept. If he FINALLY gets to open that door, and all he finds is another chocolate bell, I predict some serious holiday disappointment. Suggestions???


How Eliot became "Mog."

My husband and I have had many, many nicknames for our son in the short 2 1/2 years he's been with us. First he was my "Puppy," and then every variation of "Puppy" you could think of: Pup, Pupcake, Puppers Mcgee. Then "Puppy" morphed into "Pumpkin," and then Punkin, Punkerton, and Punky. The nicknames have come and gone, some sticking for longer than others, but the one we use the most often, and the one he actually answers to, is "Mog."

We call him that often enough that I tend to use the moniker when I write about him and when I talk about him at work, often to people who don't know the origin of the nickname. I get asked about it often enough that I figure I should record the story somewhere, before the day comes when he asks me, "Mom, why DO you and Dad call me "Mog," anyway?," and I have to answer, "Hmmm...you know...I really don't remember..."

Long before Eli and I ever decided to have a child together, we joked that any kid of ours would inevitably be a homely, scrawny, hairy, sickly little ape, inheriting the worst of both our qualities. He or she would have my allergies and asthma, Eli's propensity for stupid accidents, and a bony, spindly physique handed down from both of us. (We were both late bloomers, though while Eli is still pretty spindly, I think it's safe to say I've filled out. Understatement. *cough*) Looking back, I suppose our kidding each other about the inherent hideousness of our spawn was a defense mechanism, born of anxiety and fear on both sides. We didn't take procreation lightly. We were married for seven years before Mog was born. There was a lot of hemming and hawing, back and forth, weighing of pros and cons of becoming parents.

But finally, we took the leap.

When I became pregnant, the speculation about our future child increased in frequency, but it was always still the same. We referred to him or her as the monkey baby, the yeti, and eventually, and most often, as the mogwai. We pretty much considered it a given that any baby of ours would be...well...let's face it...ugly. (I know some people will claim there's no such thing as an ugly baby, but please. Get real. There are some ugly freaking babies out there. I've seen 'em. And you know you have too; don't pretend that you haven't.)

Why mogwai? Because there tends to be this...phenomenon...that happens with particularly skinny kids, where their eyes seem a little bulgy and too big for their face (Did you know eyes are the only parts of the body that don't grow as you age? It's true: you're born with the same size eyes you'll have as an adult), and the skin around these kids' eyes has a sort of fold to it, or sort of a tiny pudgy bag underneath the eye. I'm not describing this very well, so let me just show you. This is a school photo of my dear sweet husband, taken in 1986.

You see what I'm talking about there--with the eye bags? No, seriously, look PAST the gigantic new front teeth he's sporting, the unfortunate haircut, and those devastating eyebrows. Look at his eyes.

Now, take a look at this little guy, also a child of the 80's:

Boom! Spitting image, right?!

So we, or maybe just I, presumed that our baby was destined to be a Mogwai. Just like his daddy.

And so somehow, and I'm pretty sure it was before he was born, we started referring to him as the "mogwai." Because you've gotta call a baby something, and you can't just refer to him or her as "it," even before you know the gender. "It" is too impersonal, but a name, a real name, is too real at this point. You don't want to get overly attached and risk jinxing the viability of the little bean (or at least that was my warped, glass half empty perspective.) In any case, we hadn't decided on a name yet and it would still be awhile before a sonogram would reveal it was a son I was carrying. So, the "mogwai" it was.

The sweetest part about this story, I think, is that when Eliot was born, one of the first things Eli said to me after we were all three reunited in the hospital room (after my c-section), was that he had been all prepared to tell me our child was beautiful. He had psyched himself up to assure me that Eliot was the most beautiful baby he'd ever seen (assuming that it would be a lie). And then he said, "But when I saw him, I knew I didn't have to lie. He really IS beautiful! He really is."

And he was. He was the most beautiful baby. Not a Mogwai at all. Not even close.

But by then, the name had stuck. He was already "Mogwai," and then, soon enough, just "Mog."

When people ask, I usually tell them he's Mog because we're still waiting for him to turn into a gremlin. And that's true too.

But oh what a beautiful little gremlin he'll make. I do so love those eyebrows.


Keepin' it real.

On Saturday, I was given the Marie Antoinette award by blogger Deanna of "Fun Mama." This award, also known as the "Real Person" award, was extended as a way to recognize me for keeping it real with my blogging. Yeah, that's right. I keeps it real. Marie Antoinette style. Let them bitches eat cake!

Okay, I'm kidding. Sorry. (And Marie Antoinette didn't ever actually say that anyway. With or without the "bitches.") It's just that I can't even think about the concept of keeping it real without thinking about that Chappelle Show skit. Lord, that man is hilarious.

Enough, enough. Back to the task at hand. Deanna was awarded the Marie Antoinette by fellow blogger Monica, of "Without Filters," whose personal philosophy about honesty is right in line with my own. (I'm so happy to have "met" all these awesome blogging ladies through Shimelle's class.)

My duty and privilege is now to pass the honor on to seven other bloggers whose honesty and "realness" have warranted the Marie Antoinette nod.

Personally, I find these bloggers' openness refreshing. If I keeps it real, well, they keeps it realer. Bravo! Some of these ladies are rock stars of the blogging world, women whose blogs get bajillions of visits a day, and some are just your average everyday scrapbookers/thoughtful people like myself who for whatever reason decided to put their voices out there. ALL of these women are people whose blogs I'm drawn to because of their unique voice, their honesty, their "realness." When I need a reality check, I visit...in no particular order (That's a lie. They're alphabetical.) ...Drumroll, please...


30 years of terrible, horrible, no good, very bad hair.

It has taken me thirty years to find a haircut I actually like and that looks decent on me.

Exhibit A: Me choking myself out because I hate my hair.
Exhibit B: Me grimacing because I hate my hair (and photographers).
Exhibit C: Clearly, I am pissed off about this hair. And photographers. (Or, quite possibly, about the baby blue sweater vest I'm wearing.)
Exhibit D: Clearly, a mullet is going to make everything better. (Even photographers and sweater vests, now in pink. WTF?!)

On my birthday this year, back in June (the 15th, so mark it on your calendars and buy me something nice next year), I thumbed through the Yellow Pages under "beauty salons" and called down the list until I found one that was open and could cut and color my hair THAT DAY because 1) it was my birthday, and 2) if I didn't get it done THAT DAY I was going to change my mind.

I ended up in the chair of this goddess of a woman, this amazing creature whom we'll call "Brenda." Because that's her name. I had never met Brenda before, but Brenda gave me the most sensational haircut I have ever had. After spending the afternoon in her chair, I felt so much like a real girl that I went directly home and shaved my legs. No joke.

I've revisited Brenda several times now, and every time I go I am surprised at how much I enjoy the experience. It's therapeutic, sitting and spending time among these women. The chatter hums along over the hair dryers; the air fills with talk of children, relationships, current events. I can take part in the conversation or remain comfortably silent, and I am surprised at how often Brenda draws me out, has me telling her intimate details of my life before I even realize I'm doing it. I think in some ways she and the other stylists are like bartenders, unwittingly encouraging confidences. There's a publicness to this forum; the other hairdressers and their clients can surely hear me, if they choose to tune in to our conversation. And yet there is an atmosphere of acceptance here, and even solidarity.

I keep going back not just for the cuts, but for the comfort: the soothing washing of my hair as I stretch my head back into the basin, the smell of hairspray and chemicals, the voice of that one stylist who sounds SO much like Megan Mullally playing Karen on Will and Grace. I love that woman!

And of course, we cannot discount the end result of time spent in the salon: the haircut that accentuates the curl of my hair and actually causes it to lie nicely most days in soft cascades around my face, the cut that looks better the second day after washing, so that I can crawl out of bed and run my fingers through it before heading off to work. The cut allows me to spend that precious hour from seven to eight o'clock in the morning lying in bed watching one more episode of Bob the Builder with Mog before getting him dressed and fed and potty-ed and out the door.

(This is not to say that my hair really looks good enough to go to work without washing or styling it in the morning, but it looks just good enough to convince ME that I don't have to wash or style it. Because, you know. I set pretty low standards for myself, after all.)


Can I tell you a story?

I have always been fascinated by the power of stories. Stories are the medium through which I make sense of the world.

It thrills me to no end that Eliot loves for us to read and sing to him and that he's starting to "read" books to himself and his stuffed animals. He can sing the entire alphabet and recognizes most of the letters by sight. He's starting to learn that "Z" is for "Zayda" and "zipper," and that "R" is for "rainbow" and "Rachel."

So naturally, I was tickled this morning when he asked, "Can I tell you a story, Mommy?"

Dude! Absolutely!

And so he begins: "One day...there was a deer...in the field."

I can tell he's making this up as he goes along by the long pauses in the middle of his sentences. And I'm already thinking I'm so proud of him for starting with "One day..." It's like he's setting up the story to have a setting and an actual narrative arc. He's only two! Smartest kid alive!

And then he continues: "And the deer had poop in his butt. And he pooped in the field. Oh, that was so gross!" And he erupts into a fit of giggling.

Yep. That's my son. *sigh* I'm so proud. ;)


Is it too early to talk New Year's resolutions?

I'm eager to say sayonara to 2009, so now that it's officially the first day of the last month of the year, I'm feeling relieved.

One of my New Year's resolutions is to back up my digital photos and get them and my digital scrapbooking files organized according to some sort of usable scheme. I haven't done much digital scrapping, partially because I don't entirely know what I'm doing, and partially because when I open Photoshop Elements I inevitably spend twenty minutes looking for the file I want because the stinking files are all over the place, in different folders on different spaces on my hard drive. So I spend so much time trying to figure out whether that background image I KNOW I downloaded is in my downloads folder, or my documents, or my pictures, or in one of the various subfolders within my downloads or my documents, or my pictures...yeah, you get the idea. It's a mess.

But my inability to construct digital pages doesn't mean I don't get swayed into downloading more and more awesome digital freebies from the web, or even buying digital templates and elements from time to time. When I saw Cathy Zielske's post about her new holiday memories digital template, I could not resist. It looked SO easy. And it took her 20 MINUTES to throw together three pages. Three pages in 20 minutes! Presto! Surely I could do this.

To make a long story short, it took me more than 20 minutes. To do one page. But, eventually I emerged victorious. My page looks almost exactly like Cathy's examples because I'm not well versed enough in my Photoshop skills to do much other than drag and drop into the existing template. I used Cathy's Layered Template #15 and Mindy Terasawa's I Believe Kit and I Believe Solids. So yeah, complete copycat. Still, I'm pretty proud of this one.

2007 was Eliot's first Christmas. We were in the little house that Eli and I first bought together, the little house we brought Eliot home to when he was born in April of that same year. Ah, memories. Captured!

 Eli informs me that he wasn't working 12 hour nights yet in December of '07. He claims he didn't even transfer to CCU until January of the next year. Since it's digital, I suppose I could easily go in and change the journaling. But you know what? I'm not going to. Done, and...done. Good enough.