Sunday, June 27, 2010

Just Keep Climbing

I have been feeling so proud of Grand Master B these past few months. Since he's been home, he has been very serious about continuing to stay positive. He participates three times per week in an adolescent group program, as well as individual and family therapy. His mood and general outlook on life is so improved compared to one year ago. He will be entering into his senior year of high school with a C average. He has been working part-time at Taco John's. He has a very sweet girlfriend, although young love does seem to be a bit stormy at times. He is happy. He is striving for balance, like the rest of us.

Watching him work so diligently at keeping his life positive and healthy is inspiring from my viewpoint as his mother. But it is also painful at times. I want to help, to keep all the difficulties at bay, to protect my child. But I know these are lessons that he has to learn for himself. Doing the right thing, making the right choice is not always easy. In fact, it's almost always harder than the alternative but it is so necessary. I find that all I can do is remind him that I love him and that I am so proud of him. And remind him that I will always be beside him.

Knowing this story is at the forefront of our lives right now, I was inspired to create a scrapbook page documenting it. I showed it to B and he really liked it. I do, too.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A New Adventure

My Tell Your Story art journaling class with Elsie and Rachel has sadly come to an end. I cannot emphasize enough how much I enjoyed this class. I have always been a journaler of sorts. In the past I've done several different types, ranging from simply making lists in my daily planner to creating very artsy and detailed layouts for my scrapbooks. But I had never committed to journaling on a daily basis.

And I want to.

One of my goals for this year is to do something creative every day. I find when I make the time to create I am more relaxed and productive in all the other areas of my life. But, I had been struggling to find a way to balance my need to create with the real life time demands. I love scrapbooking. And I firmly believe there is no one way to scrapbook. I am a "hybrid" in every sense of the word. I scrap with paper and glue. I scrap digitally with my laptop and Photoshop Elements. I scrapbook both 8.5x11 and 12x12 pages. I make mini-albums. But the stress of creating a layout - or even part of a layout - everyday was really overwhelming. My scrapbooking is very much a story driven process. And let's be honest, not every day has a story that I want to tell. But every day does bring new feelings and experiences that can be documented. I found keeping an art journal was really the perfect fit. I put much less pressure on myself regarding my journal pages than I do my scrapbook pages. Art journaling was easier and faster to conceptualize and complete for me. I am just in love with this direction in my creative journey.

So, I was particularly excited when of my Tell Your Story classmates Janel organized a 30-Day Journal Challenge through her blog. I love the ongoing commitment to keeping up with my art journal, and the added accountability of participating in a group helps keep me on target with my goals. The Challenge started yesterday - and I am loving what I am seeing in our Flickr Group!

Here are my first two pages.

click on image to see larger

click on image to see larger

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Worlds of Fun

Over Memorial Day weekend, our family traveled with our best friends to Kansas City to take a day trip down to Worlds of Fun. Now, this is an amusement park that my own family went to every summer as I was growing up. Deana's family also went every summer. And, as I was a Gleek long before it was popular, I also went every summer in Junior High and High School to perform with the show choir. Hell yes, I am that cool.

click on any image to see larger

But, I digress...

The park was open 10:00am -10:00pm and we stayed from open to close. We were total troopers, including Mr. Sam and Princess Izzy. Grand Master B would have left about 6:00pm but then got a second wind and rallied for the rest of the night. Our friends, Adam & Nisy, took my trusty CR-V for the day and lent us the "Swagger Wagon" (minivan) so we could all fit in one car. We planned to stop at The Waffle House in Rockport, MO in an homage to those childhood road trips but the Waffle House in Rockport no longer exists. Now, it is the Black Iron Grill Steakhouse and Saloon (see Facebook page here) which wasn't open at 7:45am or we might had breakfast there out of sheer stubbornness. Instead, we journeyed on down to the traveler's standby Cracker Barrel which not only has sinfully good food but also features kitschy shopping.

Deana & I actually went to the grocery store at the ungodly hour of 5:30am so that we could bring lunch. I froze 10 bottles of water overnight before we left. We each carried 3 bottles in our bags into the park and used the remaining bottles as added ice in the cooler. It was kind of nice to take a break midday to sit down and have a little picnic. Bringing our own water and lunch saved us a bundle! We planned to eat dinner in the park but instead we had snacks and kept on riding. We ended up stopping to eat a BK on the way out of town because after 12 hours we just didn't care anymore.

Some highlights of the day:
  • Mr. Sam is a total daredevil! He shares Grand Master B's love of all things roller coaster.
  • I am almost phobic in my dislike of roller coasters but I will ride any spinning ride you can find.
  • Princess Izzy is not wild about fast rides.
  • When everyone else went to ride the 'big kids rides', Princess Izzy & I hung out at Camp Snoopy where she got to enjoy all the 'l'il kid rides.' It was a match made in Heaven.
  • Deana, Dave, Jim and B all agreed that the new-to-us coaster The Patriot totally rocked.
  • We all loved the water rides, especially the Monsoon and the log ride.
  • Grand Master B can meet cute girls anywhere but an amusement park is like a gift from little Baby Jesus in this arena.
  • We all took on the challenge of the rock wall, except Princess Izzy (too young) and Jim (staff photographer). Dave and B made it all the way to the top and then rappelled down like pros. Deana & I managed not to kill ourselves...and only one of us fell on her butt but you have to guess which one.
  • Our husbands bought us bunny ears that light up and flicker like a strobe in da club. Yes, we rock.
  • 3-hour road trips are much worse going home.
I'll leave you with some photos of the day which was amazing. Wish you could have been there!

PS Check out this totally cool photo Jim took of the Spinning Dragon roller coaster at night.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Soundtrack of my Life

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I recently completed this journal page on 10 songs that changed my life. I love how the page turned out. Every time I glance over it, one of the song titles will catch my eye and I will instantly hear a line or two of lyric in my mind. In that moment, I am actually transported back to a different time and place. I experience the perfect blend of nostalgia and relief.

The power of memory is strong…strong enough to remind me that I do not wish to re-live any part of my life, however intense or however happy. I am content to live in the now, but it is comforting to know that with just a few notes, my past and I can join for a brief second.

Just a few days ago, I received an email from Mama Kat that contained several writing prompts. One was to write about the soundtrack of your life. I knew that this writing would perfectly complement my journal page. In the spirit of reflection, I thought I’d share this soundtrack of my life with you. These songs are all equally important and are presented in delightfully random order.

“Yesterday” – The Beatles
Love was such an easy game to play,
Now I need a place to hide away,
Oh, I believe in yesterday.

I grew up listening to The Beatles. They were one of my mother’s favorite bands. It is no wonder that after experiencing my first real heartbreak at age 14 I turned to the familiar crooning of the Fab Four. This song was particularly poignant in that the words mirrored my disillusion while the melody enveloped and comforted me.

“So Lonely” – The Police
Just take a seat, they're always free
No surprise, no mystery
In this theatre that I call my soul
I always play the starring role, so lonely

Who would’ve guessed that I would have to go all the way to Germany to discover the beauty of The Police? I studied in Hamburg in 1990, the year I turned 18. It was an amazing experience, filled with exploration and freedom. I spread my wings, lived a little on the wild side…well, wild for a small town girl from Omaha, Nebraska. I might have lost my henna-dyed hair and my nose ring, but I will never surrender my love for punk music.

“Thunder Road” – Bruce Springsteen
The screen door slams, Mary's dress waves
Like a vision she dances across the porch as the radio plays
Roy Orbison singing for the lonely, Hey that's me and I want you only.
Don't turn me home again I just can't face myself alone again

I will always think of my husband Jim when I hear this song. It is always there…in his smile, the way his eyes crinkle at the corners, how he holds me as we dance across our living room. This is the score of us falling in love.

“Wish You Were Here” – Pink Floyd
How I wish, how I wish you were here.
We're just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl, year after year,
Running over the same old ground.
What have you found? The same old fears.
Wish you were here.

I will always and forever associate this song with loss. It is bittersweet to hear even now. Although I have come through a stronger and wiser woman, I cannot help but feel the sadness, the grief of that time.

“Black” – Pearl Jam
I know someday you'll have a beautiful life
I know you'll be a sun in somebody else's sky, but why
Why, Why can't it be, Why can't it be mine?

I first heard Pearl Jam in the fall of 1991 when I started college at UNL, along with Nirvana and Soundgarden.  I was poised on the brink of adulthood and this angst-filled music resonated with the many chords of change within me. When I became pregnant and gave birth almost exactly one year later, the Seattle sound was still extremely popular on college campuses. In my mind, this particular song became an anthem of all I had left behind in choosing to have a child on my own at age 20, a decision that I have never regretted but altered my life dramatically to say the least.

“She Will Be Loved” – Maroon 5
It’s not always rainbows and butterflies
It’s compromise that moves us along
My heart is full and my door’s always open
You can come anytime you want

This just means so much more when you truly understand how love works.

“With Or Without You” – U2
Through the storm we reach the shore
You give it all but I want more
And I'm waiting for you

I could have picked nearly any song off of U2’s The Joshua Tree as this entire album made an impression on my young and fertile mind. When this album was released in 1987, I was a freshman in high school. I was just discovering my own musical tastes and U2 was like manna from Heaven. I was figuring out that I had a mind and starting to dream of the places it might take me. I was part of a team. I got my driver’s license. I fell in love for the first time. And inevitably, I had my heart broken. “With Or Without You” takes me to the highs of that time and then abruptly leaves me sobbing in my driveway, sitting in my yellow VW bug until the windows fogged completely over and my mother had to come out and coax me inside.

“The Boys Of Summer” – Don Henley
But I can see you, your brown skin shining in the sun
You got your hair combed back and your sunglasses on, baby
And I can tell you my love for you will still be strong

All it takes is hearing the first few bars of this song to take me back to summer camp, young love and feeling like I was becoming a woman. It is a heady feeling that always leaves me smiling.

“Closer To Fine” – Indigo Girls
I'm trying to tell you something about my life
Maybe give me insight between black and white
The best thing you've ever done for me
Is to help me take my life less seriously, it's only life after all

Ahhh…a young student’s anthem discovered on a college campus. If you’re over the age of 35, you know exactly what I am talking about.

“You Can’t Always Get What You Want” – The Rolling Stones
You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
But if you try sometimes you might find
You get what you need

I first remember this song from my early childhood. My mother was also quite the Stones fan. I can never hear this song without picturing my mother driving with the windows down, a cigarette in hand, the radio turned up and singing at full volume with her head thrown back and a smile on her face. It fills me with a tremendous sense of gratitude and wonder and love. I am so thankful for my mother. For the love of music she fostered. For the intellect she nurtured. For the moral compass she instilled. For all the songs we sang together.

I still love the Stones. I often play this song on my iPod in the car. I don’t smoke and I can’t stand the windows being down when I drive (except when I am in a convertible, duh). But I sing at full volume with a smile on my face and my head thrown back…just like my mom. My son sits in the seat next to me.

And I can hear him singing along.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

My Life A to Z

I saw a really cute idea on Carrie's blog to post an A to Z list of things about our home. I just love this! And since I am not yet ready with my fabulous post about our recent visit to Worlds of Fun in Kansas City, it just worked for today!

Here you go:
A- My AIR CONDITIONER is set on: 71
B- My BEDROOM theme is: eclectic - a mix of Mission furniture, vintage lamps on either side of a King-size bed and a lovely, crisp blue & cream duvet set
C- The CAR in the driveway is: Honda CR-V
D- My DESK looks: pretty tidy with an over sized cutting mat, spinning craft organizer and a paper tray for current projects
E- The EXACT time I wake up daily is: never exact (ha!), just varies day-to-day
F- The FIRST thing I wash in the shower is: my face
G- My GARAGE is filled with: my husband's tools
H- My HOME is: my refuge
I- If you peeked INSIDE my bedroom you'd see: laundry & a kickin' flat screen tv
J- My favorite JUICE is: Apple
K- The best part of my KITCHEN is: the butcher block island
L- The LAST person who visited my home was: my best friend Deana & her kids
M- The last piece of MAIL for me was: From Gina the best box of scrapbook material ever!
N- My NEIGHBORS think I'm: a keep-to-myself girl
O- If you OPENED my fridge you'd see: diet A&W cream soda
P- My last house PARTY was: a welcome home party for my son
Q- A QUICK meal I like to fix is: pasta
R- My favorite ROOM of the house is: my craft room
S- The SHAMPOO brand I use is: Garnier Fructisse
T- My largest TELEVISION is: 36
U- UNDER my bed you will find: nothing
V- The last time I VACUUMED was: last week
W- Looking out my WINDOW I see: our beautiful neighborhood
X- I wish I had X-TRA: closet space
Y- My YARD is: nice but we need to update the back deck
Z- ZZZZZZZ My bedtime is: variable, but usually 11 or 12
so what does the A to Z of your life look like?