School Year SOTM

It’s that time of year again – the kids are heading back to school. We have the perfect stamp set for your back to school crafting needs!

School Year

I love that this set touches on both the first & last day of school (I have visions of one day creating a layout showing pictures of my boys’ on their first & last days).

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This set is also great for teacher gifts and cards.

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I’m thinking maybe this card is better suited for parents than kids! I used a design from the Miss You cardmaking Workshops Your Way kit. The background piece and ink are Peacock and the hearts are stamped in Ruby.  The patterned B&T paper is from the Jack collection. Here are the dimensions for the pieces:

  • Peacock cardstock – 3 x 5
  • Ruby diagonal plaid – 3 x 4 1/4
  • Whisper cardstock (retired) – 2 1/4 x 3 1/4
  • White Daisy cardstock – 2 x 3

Here’s a great layout from the CTMH artists

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If you’re sending your kids back to school – I hope you take some time to enjoy the last few weeks you have with them before they start a new chapter!

Enjoy!

~Gerri

 

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Giving My Kids More

Like many parents, I’ve wanted to give my kids ‘more than I had’ – to the point where I sometimes worry that I’m giving them too much or things are too easy for them. I also struggled with this when I quit my job in January. Our family’s discretionary income certainly dropped without my civil service job.  But – I felt having more time with them, and not feeling the stress of getting everything done when I was home was more important than ‘the stuff’.

On a recent backpacking trip, I came to realize how much more I was actually giving my kids.  I definitely felt better about these experiences than any of the material things I could ever give them.

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  1. Lake Swimming – We live solidly ‘in town’ – there are no lakes, ponds or creeks for them to play in, so this is not a regular occurrence. I grew up with a creek (we pronounce it ‘crick’). We would damn it up, look for crayfish or just tromp through it. So when we went to the Uinta Mountains,the boys got to play in a cold clear mountain lake  – with a log. No goggles, no diving toys, no diving boards – just nature.IMG_3508
  2. Starry, Starry Nights! I grew up in rural Pennsylvania. It was normal to see the stars. We don’t always get to see the stars where we live because of all the light pollution plus the fact that it stays light for so long in the summer! When we head to the mountains – there are lots of stars to see – if we can stay awake long enough (that’s the great thing about backpacking – it definitely wears these to boys out!) – yea, I know – this picture doesn’t actually have stars – but the moon was pretty!IMG_3515
  3. GOATS! Growing up I saw lots of white tail deer, red tail hawks and even an occasional bear. But the first time I saw a mountain goat, I was in my 30’s or maybe even 40’s. But, my boys had the privilege of seeing this beautiful mom & her baby. They came right by our camp (we were really surprised that they came so close!). Then they even heard the mama & baby calling for each other – it was an odd squeaking, almost crying noise.

So – I still want to give my kids more than I had. But, at least now I don’t feel guilty about giving them too many material things. I love being able to show them the beauty that God has surrounded us with in nature!

Enjoy!

~Gerri

The Non-Sucky Parts of Autism (for my family, anyway)

I thought since I did a post a bit ago about how the effects of Autism can really be a downer (Autism Sucks) – I should also touch on those ‘non-sucky’ parts.  Since Autism is a spectrum with varying ranges of function and ability, this list applies to my family – particularly my son.  I hope that if you are a care giver or know someone on the Autism spectrum – that you too can take a moment and think about those things that are special

Passion – my son is so passionate about the things that really catch his attention. He throws himself into those things with all his heart. He will spend hours researching and planning to make something happen.

Intelligence – God gave this child an amazing brain! He gets concepts quickly and can apply those concepts and implement ideas.

A Thirst For Knowledge – This boy (both of my boys really) has always been a knowledge seeker! He wants to know what, how, why…. He reads, researches things on the internet … He’s even gone so far as to call NASA and Lego to ask questions! (I never would have thought to do something like that at his age – let alone have the courage to do it!)

Open Book (kind of) – you know exactly what he thinks. He wears his emotions on his sleeve. If you can’t figure it out – he’ll tell you – without beating around the bush.

He’s Great With Little Kids – If I’m volunteering in the nursery at church, I can count on my son to help out and entertain the little kids that are there. He loves to play with them and they all have a blast playing with cars or Legos or on the playground.

I Can Help – Based on my experiences with my sons – I’m sometimes able to help other moms who have questions about how to get help, what’s working (or not), how to handle situations. Obviously – all kids are different, but sometimes just an ear to listen can help another mom with the day to day struggles.

I realize I’m probably missing some positive traits, and this post isn’t near as long as the negative one – mainly because I had so many recent and strong emotions involved when I was writing the other post. Sometimes it seems harder to identify these positive things because they’re frequently overshadowed by the rough patches. But, I know that while the negative affects often tend to stand out – these positive attributes will be the ones that bring my son success.  I’m looking forward to seeing what he does with his future!

Find the Positive & Enjoy!!

~Gerri

 

Autism Sucks!

My heart is breaking for my son. We spent 6 months, going to 4-5 different outdoors stores (some of them two or three times) and even The Good Feet Store trying to find hiking boots that were comfortable. He’s had his boots less than a month and for whatever reason (his feet grew, his socks aren’t in the right place, who knows) they aren’t comfortable – they don’t fit – and he’s having a melt down.

I hate that trying to do something he enjoys – hiking, backpacking, a scouting event – causes so much distress.

I hate that the mere thought of getting his things together for a trip is so overwhelming that even breaking it down into smaller chunks over several days is too much for him.

I hate that when he finally has everything together and it doesn’t go in his bag right, it’s cause for another melt down.

I hate that some people don’t understand and won’t try to understand.

I hate that I don’t know how to help him.

I know that autism is a part of who he is. I know it is why his brain thinks differently than others and why he is so good at solving puzzles or engineering types of things.

But I hate this part of it. The part that is painful for him. The part that keeps him from enjoying activities that he loves.

So he left for his trip – coming off a full blown melt down – in an uproar.

I sit here, wondering if he’s adjust to the boots. Wondering if the fun of the scouting event will overcome the discomfort. Or – did he get there and find the rain and mud even more unbearable.

I sit here – afraid to text my husband to see if he’s calmed down. Waiting for the phone call or text that I need to come get him. But hoping that he’s settled down and will enjoy the event. And praying – always praying…

Mini Album

One of my friends had a birthday last week, and I wanted to make her a mini album for pictures of her grandson.  She gets most of her pictures through texts or Snapchat – and those are so vulnerable, so I wanted her to have a little something that was more permanent and that she could add some journaling to.

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I thought about doing something cut with the Cricut, but then I found this fun idea through a Google search.  It’s so easy and it uses just a single sheet of 12 x 12 paper, plus scraps & snippets to decorate – and comes out as a 4 x 3 album with 4 double layouts. I won’t re-create the directions because Lowri McNabb did an awesome job with them on her Paper Vine blog – check out her fun projects! But I’ll show you what I did and give you some of the tips I saw in making it.

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Although I was originally thinking this would be a Grandma Brag Book – I really left it open so my friend could put in pictures of whatever makes her happy. I used a combination of Close To My Heart papers (including this month’s featured paper – Some Kinda Wonderful) and some Simple Stories things I had in my stash – the colors really complemented the Some Kinda Wonderful.

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Tips & Ideas –

1) I was originally going to use cardstock for the base – but I decided on a piece of patterned paper instead  I chose a piece from the Charlotte line that has a neutral toned pattern. This was a good option so that if you’re using white core cardstock – it won’t show through.

2) Crease the folds – but not hard.  Then as you’re gluing the pages together, finalize your creases so that the edges line up.

3) I chose to have a background piece as a photo mat on one side of the double page – and then added journaling/title pieces  on the other sides.

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4) Pocket scrapbook cards work great either for journaling or for a photo mat.

5) Use glue dots to adhere an embellishment but still allow a photo to be slipped behind it.

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6) I added little tags & tabs to the edges to create more dimension. I thought about covering these with the cover sheet so they wouldn’t get bent, but in the end, decided to line the cover up with the actual edges and let the pieces stick out.

7) It’s a lot easier to create pages when you know what pictures will be going with them!  I tried to keep things generic, and hope my friend will find some fun pictures to use.

8) I thought about trying to get pictures & surprise her with a completed album, but decided to give her the blank album and let her send me the pictures she wants in it.  Then I’ll print & add them.

There you go – a fun, easy and CUTE mini album that’s great for gifting or using up your snippets!

Enjoy!

~Gerri

City Sidewalks Workshop Your Way

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These are such FUN Christmas papers!  I love the bright, non-traditional colors like Lagoon & Peacock and I love how well they coordinate with the beautiful green & red that we’re used to around Christmas.

This Workshop Your Way adds the City Sidewalks complements and Washi Pack for great embellishments to accent your photos.

I used these layouts to document capture our trip to California in 2003 (wow – that was so long ago!).  This was the year we got 2 Christmases.  We were in PA for Thanksgiving & celebrated Christmas with my family and then went to CA to visit my husband’s family.  My son was about a year and a half and he had lots of fun getting to know his cousins and hanging out with his aunts & uncles.

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This is one of my favorite papers – love the word search letters in the background.  If I was documenting a Christmas that actually had snow – I’d use my journalling pen to circle ‘dashing through the snow’!  I’ll have to go back and see if I can find any other words to circle.

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This green background paper is great for Christmas or non-Christmas fun!

These Workshop Your Way layouts are part of my November class series – November – City Sidewalks – contact me if you’d like more info!

Enjoy!

~Gerri

Supplies Used – this project is simple – everything you need is included in the Workshop Your Way kit – available through 31 December (or while supplies last!) at gerri.closetomyheart.com

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City Sidewalks Workshop Your Way Kit

Family -Little Things Mean the Most 

I’m enjoying the crisp fall mornings these days – not so much the shorter days.  This month’s Basic Scrapbook class layout is great for pictures of family – and uses the ‘With You’ stamp set.


The sample shows placement for 3 pictures (a 5×7 and two 3×4’s) – you could easily add more pictures using Flip Flaps or additional mattes.

I’ve often heard the phrase ‘little things mean a lot’ – but I love that this stamp set says ‘the little things mean the MOST’.  Why is this?  For me it comes back to family. A few years ago, my son was diagnosed with Aspergers – a high functioning level of Autism that affects him mainly with social impairment – he doesn’t play well with others.  Most people just think he’s rude and don’t understand there’s an underlying issue.
This has been a struggle for our whole family, not just him.

The little things that mean so much are –

When he apologizes for an explosion – that means he’s starting to get the connection between his actions and others’ feelings (and more importantly – care about that connection).

When he can verbally express that he’s getting frustrated – and better yet – walk away and avoid an explosion.

When he can accept a compliment without getting angry (I still haven’t figured this one out – if I’m giving you a compliment – why get upset?)

When his brother doesn’t intentionally try to get him spun up.

When mom or dad can calmly engage – correct, redirect, compliment, reward.

I know for lots of families, these things are just second nature – but for us they’re little things that really do mean the most.  Because these little things are putting my son on the path to being able to function appropriately in society.  They also mean that our family is making little improvements – to be more understanding, to be better, to help each other.  These little things for you – mean the most for us.

Originally, I thought about having family pictures on this layout, maybe instead I’ll tell this story of how such little things do mean the most.