Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The One with The Flatulating Acid-Spitting Zumzizeroo

I love how this layout turned out...Nathaniel was flat out obsessed with the movie The Cat in the Hat, for the longest time. The book too, but esp. the movie. It was a good nickname for him, LOL, so I was really pleased when Traci Reed and Meghan Mullins put out Rhyme Thyme and I could scrap his goofy nickname ;)

Hope you have a great day :)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


As a blog reader, there's nothing that peeves me more to see a poor, neglected blog. And my blog has become that poor neglected blog :D

I don't know, things have just been nuts. It's no excuse and it's the perfect excuse all at the same time! I won't even try to update you...we'll just jump back in with some layouts and some good news!

The good news first! In exactly THREE days I will be sitting at the Greyhound station at this time in the morning, waiting for my David to come home for Christmas exodus! He will be home for exactly two weeks and I'm over the moon!!!

When he goes back in January, it won't be that long before he is released from the Army, though. He will be getting an honorable discharge, but his ankles are simply preventing him from being able to run fast enough for the PT test. He can do push ups and situps till the cows come home but running is another story. They are still outprocessing him and the paperwork can take a little while, but at some point in January or February he will be home for good and we'll start our lives over....again ;0) David will find a new job (one with less running, hahah!) and then, you know what comes next right? Well happily ever after of course.

I'll leave you with a few pieces of eye candy!

Monday, November 24, 2008

The One With The Tedium

Organizing your scrap stash is SO tedius!!! I won a FANTASTIC prize recently and before cashing in on it, I want to make sure the kits I have are organized. I'm about halfway through and I'd like to gouge my eyes out. Some people enjoy organizing, but I just don't see it!

The good news is...when I am done organizing my files, I have a $200 gift certificate to use for Sweet Shoppe! Isn't that awesome?!?!?!?

So you have a great day...I'll be organizing!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The One With The Explanation

So I haven't been around in what seems like forever now! Things got a little crazy here! I was really struggling with the kids by myself in the middle of last week, so I decided at the last minute to go spend the weekend with my dad and stepmom for his birthday. Convinced my sister Tab to meet me there and we had a fun weekend. Instead of coming straight home to Ohio I drove the 2 more hours to Tab's house to see her for an evening. Got up on Tuesday morning to go home to Ohio...

Went home and was only home for 2 hours when I got a call from Tabatha that she had lost her pregnancy at 14 weeks. I hadn't even unpacked the van so we all just got right back in and drove the 3 hours back to her house. I spent the evening with the kids while she went to the hospital. On Wednesday we had a small service here at the house for sweet little Sebastian Judah Reed. I'm staying with Tabatha for another week to help her through the roughest part of the transition. Honestly more than anything I think I'm just keeping her mind off things. We have a very fun time together...we really are like two peas in a pod. So we are just hanging out this week but I'll be back around a little more regularly now!

have a great weekend!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The One Where I Spill The Secret

For years I have been making a really mean cup 'o cocoa and fooling everyone (EVERYONE) that there is a top secret ingredient in it. I won't let anyone be in the kitchen when I am making my cocoa. My husband, my sister, all of our family and friends who pop in as my cocoa (and I do have a recipe but it's nothing all that special). I've had people guess "It's peppermint!" "It's nutmeg!" But I always just brush them off.

Here is the big secret, made with Libby Weifenbach's Cottonheaded Ninnymuggins. I used an empty spice bottle and made a 5.25"x3.50 label and made a 3.50x2.50" message to curl up on the inside:
Just keep it between you and me, okay?

Happy Veteran's Day sure to thank a vet! I sent my daddy an e-card but I'm off to call him and talk to him in person. I appreciate the freedom I have in this wonderful nation and it is thanks to people like him!

Monday, November 10, 2008

The One With The Chompers

So at roughly 5 1/2 months, Parker got his first tooth. My favorite part about it was that I was on the phone with David when I accidentally discovered it! So he found out in real time which is unusual!

So ignore the scratch on Parker's forehead...I cut his fingernails yesterday but he still managed to scratch himself. The real purpose of the photo shoot was a quick one this morning to see if I could nab the pearly white on film. I don't think I really succeeded. I can see it in the third photo but I know what I'm looking for.

I thought I'd share the photos anyway because they are good for a laugh! :D

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The One With The Layout Catch Up!

Just a quick post and run this morning scrappers!! Time to catch you up on some layouts :P I haven't been scrapping as much as I'd like to lately so I'd really like to scrap some more this week while Sweet Shoppe is down making the change to X cart! I hope you have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The One With Some Scrap Chat

I have a question for you today, scrappers. It's a spinoff of "what makes a good layout" but it's not that generic.

Generally when I am shopping, I'm looking for great textures on my papers, interesting patterns, preferably with stripes and floral, small prints. I am looking for unique elements like paper pieces and interesting hardware, etc. It has to have great colors. And a good and versatile alpha. I don't prefer alphas that are too adorned.

Recently I finished this page and I don't know that I've ever been so in love with a page...*swoon*. It's so simple but I could just stare at this page forever. I'm not even trying to be vain, I just love how simply and perfectly it came together.

{And on a side note...Barb...if you are reading this...Barb you are the queen of getting published...I see your layouts left and right in magazines! Is this publishable material? It just seems so papery I thought I might have a chance. Or am I out of luck because all fall layouts were called for six months ago? Should I scraplift myself and do a spring theme? :P}

back to topic:

Which led me to thinking...I used a great kit for this page: Stuffed by Libby Weifenbach, Shawna Clingerman and Melissa Bennett.
But, this page could have been created with a mediocre kit too. Or *gasp* even a "bad" kit! I mean, all I used was three solid papers, three pieces of ricrac, a plain alpha, a tab and a button. Nothing fancy about that! (and the kit had so much cuter stuff in it...maybe I'll go back and do a second layout to use the adorable little pilgrim or turkey.)

So I guess the real question is....can a page be great without the fancy fixin's from a fantastic kit? I think my page works, because of the cute photo and the clever concept, but could my page be better if I added some fancy fixin's? Or would it be overkill?

I'm just musing this morning. Don't wanna talk about politics :P

what do you think?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The One For David

I have a post today especially for my husband, as I peeked a comment from him in yesterday's post! Hi honey! (I knew he was reading and I got onto him for not posting...he said, "I don't understand blog protocall.") LOL!!!!!!!

Anyway, I did this layout for him. I used Gimme More by the Sweet Shoppe Designers...a freebie for a layout contest about why you scrap. I wasn't even going to enter honestly and I glanced across the room at the 5x7 photo of him in his ACU's staring back at me and I knew I had to do this page.

Journaling reads:

In the beginning, I scrapped because my sister was. Then I scrapped for the creative outlet. And then to preserve memories. But now it is different. I scrap because every moment he is gone is a moment he is missing something. Parker's first smile, the first time he rolled over. The first time Naomi said, "I love you." He can't be here for those moments, but I can share layouts with him about those moments. By scrapping the picture while the memory is still fresh in my mind, it is the next best thing to being there. He tells me that when he is able to use the computer to view my blog, he has a smile stuck on his face the rest of the day. I have scrapped for many reasons and I'm certain I'll think of more. But right here, right now, in this moment....I scrap to make him smile a little more, sigh a little less, and for a brief moment, feel like he was there.

He is going to have a rough few weeks that will be pretty busy and restrictive for I'm not sure if he's going to get the chance to see this..

...but if you are, sweetie...I really love you.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The One With Beggar's Night '08

I'm not sure if I've mentioned it before, but in Ohio we feel we have to go against the grain and not trick-or-treat on Halloween. It is generally the Thursday before Halloween, or if Halloween is on a Thursday, then we go on Halloween. So last Thursday the 30th we bundled up the kids and my MIL and I took them out...

I got the best deal on their costumes! I had Naomi be Nemo from Finding Nemo and Parker be Squirt from Finding Nemo. I paid $5 for his costume and $8 for hers...I was out less than $20 including shipping, and I got them in August :) I got them from the Disney Outlet online. What a deal! And everyone kept saying, "Hey look, Nemo!"

Naomi kept going around saying Nemo, Nemo, Nemo. My MIL bought her a clearance Pony costume yesterday and Naomi is calling IT Nemo too ;) She apparently thinks Nemo is what you call costumes :p

Naomi had a lot of fun even though she really didn't get it. She CAN say trick or treat, but she wouldn't. She CAN say thank you but she wouldn't. ;) At only one house did she start walking backwards and wouldn't go up, thanks to the fun they had set up in their garage.

Poor Parker had had immunizations that morning so he wasn't in that great of a mood, but he was a good sport anyway. I even got him to crack a few smiles.

We only went down our street that we live on, and that's all. It took us about 45 minutes and we were all sufficiently tuckered out. We spent the second hour handing out candy with my roomate Susan, who had about 75 spooks visit her house. All in all, a great evening. Hope you enjoy the photos!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The One Where She's Baaaack

;) Didja miss me?

I've been offline for a solid week while I fought with Sprint Broadband Wireless. I went through *count 'em* FIVE mobile broadband cards. None of them would activate properly on my computer. After being promised one would be overnighted and in my hands for DSD...well, it wasn't. So I was instructed to go into the Sprint Store and exchange in-person. I am now the proud owner of THIS new mobile broadband card.

Of course, none of this would have happened if my original card hadn't stopped working last Saturday. I have spent HOURS on the phone with Sprint technical support this week trying to solve the problems.

But, it's solved now...and I'm back. A day late and a dollar short, but I'm back nonetheless. I have plenty to share from the past week...trick or treating and all sorts of pics and layouts, but for now I'll just wish you a happy Sunday and I'll chat with you later ;)

Monday, October 27, 2008

The One With The Story of Epic Proportions

Dear blog readers, I have a compelling story to share with you today. I warn you, it's a long one. But it is a story of compassion and kindness that will warm your heart....with a little bit of stupidity along the way. I've tried to make the story as easy to follow as possible, and I promise it's worth the read.

Before I get this story underway, let me introduce you to the characters:

Mr. Firoz Gillani: manager and owner of the Days Inn of East Ridge
Ken Greene: President of Days Inn Worldwide
Apathetic Receptionist: employee of Days Inn, East Ridge
Unhelpful Rude Lady: customer service representative, Days Inn Corporate
Jennifer: customer service representative, Portrait Innovations
Guy On Vacation (GOV): very kind citizen who stayed in room 169 seven days after me
Carol (artsygranny): digital scrapbooker who reunited me with my photos!

This story begins on August 14, 2008. I was on vacation with my 3 kids without David. I decided that I should have some portraits taken of the kids to send him. I had had a wonderful experience in June with the Portrait Innovations in Dayton, so I decided to look on the internet to find out if they had any locations in Florida. They did, and I had the kids' photos taken by Melissa in Clearwater :)

On August 16th, I checked into the Days Inn at East Ridge (Chattanooga, TN).

At this point I was two weeks in to living out of suitcases and staying places with all 3 kids and little help! When Nathan helped me bring in the luggage, he put some things on the entertainment center, and I noticed later that the bag with the portfolio of portraits had fallen behind the entertainment center. I made a mental note to not forget that they were behind there...but guess what? In our haste to get moving the next morning, I left them there. I was filling up at a gas station when I noticed, so I called and spoke with apathetic receptionist at 5:45 p.m. on August 17th. Conversation went like this:

Me: I stayed in room 169 last night and I left something there.
AR: What did you leave in the room?
Me: A bag of professional portraits. I left them behind the entertainment center.
AR: I'm by myself, I can't go look and see if they are there.
Me: Are you serious? There's NO ONE else there?
AR: Well, let me see if my boss will watch the desk and I'll look. Call back in 5 minutes.

5 minutes later:

Me: Well, do you have them?
AR: He said housekeeping has to do it, you have to call back tomorrow.
Me: Oh my gosh, I have to wonder all night? Is there nothing else you can do?
AR: Well if I see a maintenance man I can have him check.
Me: Great! Is it okay if I call back in an hour?
AR: Sure.

one hour later (6:50 p.m.)

Me: It's me again, any luck?
AR: No.
Me: Can I call in another hour?
AR: Sure.

One hour later (7:50 p.m.)

Me: Hi, have you seen a maintenance man?
AR: No.
Me: Well what time do they go home?
AR: 5:00
Me: You mean, BEFORE the first time we talked?
AR: Yes.

Let me take a moment here for a silent scream.

I called back the next day, and Apathetic Receptionist told me that my photos weren't there. Housekeeping had checked the room and they weren't there.

I was devastated. I hadn't had time to really even process what had happened or what I was going to do about it week later, on August 24th at 10:00 a.m., I got a call on my cell phone.

Guy On Vacation (actually I have no idea if he was on vacation or not but for my story he was): Lena?
Me: Yes?
GOV: Hi, I'm staying at the Days Inn in East Ridge in room 169? I have something that belongs to you?
GOV: I found them behind the entertainment center because some of my stuff fell behind there. There was an invoice in the bag that had your name and number on it.
Me: Oh thank you so much! Please just give them to the front desk and I'll get in touch with them.

The next day I called Days Inn and they acted as though they had no idea what I was talking about. Before I had a conniption fit, I called GOV again, since his number was still on my cell. I made sure that he had turned in the photos, which he had. There was only one explanation left for where my photos had gone:

Miraculously when I called back the next day my photos were there on the desk and no one was available to speak to me about them.

I spent the next couple of weeks attempting to get in touch with this mysterious "owner" who was never there and never returned phone calls. He apparently had office hours from 12:00-12:05 M-F, but took lunch from 12:01-12:04.

After a few weeks of that nonsense, I was beginning to lose my patience. I got the pleasure of speaking to AR again who told me, "I didn't lie to you. Housekeeping said it wasn't in there." At this point, the game of pass-the-buck was getting really old. I called Days Inn Customer Service.

They opened an investigation and told me that if in 7 business days, the owner hadn't responded to me, they would see what they could do. Well, surprise surprise, after 7 days, nothing. So I call back to customer service and the Unhelpful Rude Lady told me that there was nothing they could do, that it was my fault for leaving the photos.

So I pick back up where I left off, phoning Mr. Gilani daily. When I finally heard his voice with my own ears, I thought my head would explode.

Believe it or not, he was very friendly. He told me that he would check with his staff but that he would call me the next day, and he was "sure I can send you the photos".

Do you think I ever heard from him the next day?

I called and called and called over the next few weeks. The desk staff would tell me, "I gave him the message already."

Finally, I got in touch with him again. I am being completely honest with you when I tell you I couldn't understand a word he said. I asked why he hadn't returned my calls, and he said something I believe was akin to that he was waiting for me to send the money for postage. I told him how upset I was at the lack of communication and how mad I was for being lied to. He said something like, "I'm upset too. They tell me they check the room, but they no check the room." and then he got very upset and his speech became even more indistinguishable. He told me he would call me back the next day.

Do you think I ever heard from him again?

Nope. Finally I decided to call back Days Inn Corporate again. The Unhelpful Rude lady had plenty to say that was unhelpful and rude. Some of the highlights of her delightfulness included "You could go and get the photos yourself."

and, "Fine, I'll go get my supervisor and she'll tell you what you've already been told."

The supervisor had definitely achieved her position by overacheiving at unhelpfullness. She did put me through to her supervisor, though, Roberta Nichols.

Ms. Nichols was very polite but somewhat ineffective. She did call Mr. Gilani herself and get him to agree to mail me the photos if I would send him the postage.

However, at this point...between leaving my message for Ms. Nichols and receiving her callback, I had posted this plea for help at DST. I had decided that the Unhelpful Rude Lady had a point...I couldn't get the photos myself but SURELY someone lived in Chattanooga and could help me.

I explained to Ms. Nichols that I didn't want to send that man a penny because I didn't AT ALL trust that he would use the money for postage! He had done nothing to impress me at this point RE: doing what he says he will do. The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior, and his past behavior states he is going to return my photos the way he returned my phone calls.

I spoke with Carol (artsygranny) on the phone later that night. I explained the situation and she agreed to help. I was willing to pay gas, postage, and a fee for her trouble. She wanted nothing of the sort though. she wanted to do this for me for free because David is serving in the military. She went on Thursday morning and picked up my photos (of course they handed them over, no questions asked). I'm sure washing their hands of the situation left them with free time to twiddle their thumbs. She went to the post office and overnighted them. She called me to warn me though, that there was some damage to the photos. My heart sank.

She said that it looked like someone spilled a sugar packet in the portfolio. She said there was a grainy substance on it and that the photos were stuck together. WHAT THE HECK????

Obviously at this point, however, there was nothing to do but wait.

When the mail arrived the next morning, I eagerly ripped open the packaging to find my damaged photos, exactly as Carol had described them.

I cried BIG FAT tears. All of the stress and anxiety over these photos just welled up inside of me and had nowhere else to go. All of the time I had spent trying to track down my memories and to have it end like this.

I wiped my tears and went to find my paper that had Days Inn's number on it. I had originally told Ms. Nichols that I wasn't stopping until I got an answer from Ken Greene himself, and I had a renewed passion for my quest. But I thought better of it. I came to my senses.

Days Inn is NOT going to care that my photos are ruined. They have never cared in the past, they won't care right now, they will never care in the future. I knew that there was another option, but I really didn't want to bark up that tree.

I reluctantly pulled up the customer service phone number for Portrait Innovations and called their corporate office in North Carolina. After getting through to CS promptly, I explained the abridged story to Jennifer and she patiently listened. She acted like this was the simplest problem she had ever encountered.

"Is the CD damaged?" she asked. With a purchase over $99, you get the CD of the images...not in any kind of printable format...they are encrypted and you can only see the thumbnails if you look at them yourself. It is designed for you to be able to return the CD to the studio and can make reprints. I knew that this was an option all along, but didn't have any more money to put into the photos (I paid $116 originally).

Well as luck would have it, the CD wasn't WITH the photos. I had the CD all along...being the photo enthusiast that I am, I had put the CD in my laptop that night at the hotel in order to look at all of my images.

I told her I had the disc and she told me that the local Portrait Innovations would be in touch to arrange printing.

*cue Hallelujah chorus*

Just minutes later, the manager of the Dayton Portrait Innovations contacted me and told me I could come in anytime to have the reprints made, and to bring my damaged photos with me. I told her that a few of them were gone, since I had given some prints to my dad and grandma while I was in Florida. She said that would be no problem at all.

Friday afternoon I went with my damaged photos, my CD tucked firmly under my arm, with a new pep in my step to Portrait Innovations. I looked down at the new invoice they gave me, $220 worth of prints and a zero out of pocket expense for me

I walked out 20 minutes later with a complete new set of photos and a renewed faith in humanity.

The moral of this story is a very simple one. It's amazing how some people go out of their way to make someone's day brighter, while others simply don't care.

To the GOVs in the world, to the Jennifers, to the artsygrannys, to the companies like Portrait Innovations, KUDOS TO YOU!

And to the Apathetic Receptionists, Unhelpful Rude Ladies, the Firoz Gillanis of the world, and the companies like Days Inn, you should be ashamed.

And that's all I have to say about that.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The One With The Victory Rally

Today was a big day! My roommate Susan and I had tickets to go see Gov Sarah Palin speak here in town. Naomi had stayed at Nana's house last night and we dropped Parker off this morning and headed over to Hobart Arena to see the penultimate hockey mom speak to 6,000 people in a hockey arena.

It was a little chilly outside but not really too bad. Here we were waiting in line, which is something we did for about 45 minutes before we could see the entrance. As we approached, we saw the TSA checkpoint and everyone started rifling through their purses to see what they needed to pull out. They said to have out anything metal. So of course, I pulled out my keys, my cell phone, and my camera. I pulled off my button as instructed and I continued to inspect the contents of my purse. Who else but a mom of a toddler could have ONE shoe, an umbrella, two plastic bracelets, a toy bottle and a large metal spoon also in her purse? Susan actually instructed me to throw the spoon away she was laughing so hard. I mean, who carries around a spoon? I'm going to get that Naomi ;) We made it through TSA just fine you see our Rosie the Riveter buttons? We made those before we went...which was a good idea because they were selling them for $3...we saved a little dough :)

So we arrived at 8:45 and got in about 9:45...and our tickets said it began at noon. But at noon, Sarah Palin did not come out. Some guys came out and started setting up guitars and stuff. Then they announced that Tracy Lawrence was going to do a concert! Of course the crowd went wild. Now, I'm not a country music is fine, I can take or leave the music for the most part, but a free concert is a free concert! He sang Find Out Who Your Friends Are, If The World Was Your Front Porch, and a handful of other songs. It was very cool but unfortunately I only got photographs from the rear ;)

When John Boehner introduced Sarah Palin, she came out and they hugged...and ummm, I know it's completely innocent but Mr. Boehner appears to be attempting to cop a feelskie (*giggles*). The real reason I watermarked the photos today was so that we don't see that photo on the cover of US Weekly next week with a lascivious title. Honestly, even hearing John Boehner speak was nice...he is SO charismatic!

And here are a few pictures of Governor Palin.

I liked the perspective of this photo because you can see Piper, Willow, and Mr. Palin listening to her speak. One of the funnier moments of the speech was when she introduced him as "My man, the First Dude of Alaska." And off topic a bit but it was SO sweet to hear her bragging on him about all of his snow sled championships and such.

And to give you some perspective on how I was working the zoom overtime, here is a photo with no was how I was really seeing things. Pretty cool, huh? From start to finish I was gone exactly 6 hours and let me TELL YOU! As a mom to an exclusively nursing 5 month old, that was TORTURE! That last hour I wasn't sure what I was going to do. And who would be sitting next to me, but two sisters with an 11 week old son and a 12 week old daughter. Oooh, salt in the wounds. My chichi's were so mad at me and I've never been so happy to pick up Parker in my life. The babies had on little McCain was cute!

Thanks for letting me share my very cool moment yesterday. It truly felt like I was part of a neat moment in history. Regardless of what your political views are, civic responsibility is such a huge thing! Be sure to get out and vote for your candidate!

Be sure to check back tomorrow...I have a great story to tell has it all...outrage, conspiracy, adventure and heartache...(okay I'm being melodramatic, but it's a good story). See you tomorrow!