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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Reflections on 2011

As we get ready to head over to my brother's, for what sounds like a really fun New Year's Eve party, I thought I'd take couple minutes to wish everyone a Happy New Year!
How has 2011 been for you?
Overall I think this has been a good year for me. I have met many challenges face on and feel I've come out on the other side with a better understanding of what I want, who I am, what I value and what's important to me right now. I'm not sure everyone around me shares these new found beliefs and ideals which may be problematic but ... I am happy. Right now. In this moment. With me, myself and I.

The rest of the world can either get on board or get out of my way!!


Ha, ha. I say that with such bravado but really I am a total people pleaser and even the act of thinking about myself and actively working on myself is a bit foreign to me. It's a struggle as a Mom and a Wife whose natural tendency is to put all others before herself, to remember the adage "Happy Wife, Happy Life" and that by taking care of yourself first, you are actually better able to take care of everyone else. Sort of like on the airplane when they say "put on your oxygen mask before assisting others". Well this year, for the most part, my oxygen mask has been firmly in place! And I plan to keep it there for 2012!!

My One Little Word for 2011 was Release. I wanted to release so many negative emotions that I've been carrying around for awhile. Through the help of a therapist I think I have done just that. (Some are of the lingering variety though ...) While I was trying to pick a OLW for 2012 several words flitted through my grey matter - family, fun, free - but the one that has stuck and that I will be (pun intended) focussing on is, FOCUS. I have felt a distinct lack of focus in my day to day life lately. I used to be so organized and never forgot where I'd put things or what events were on my calendar for the week. Now, and this may have more to do with being the Coordinator In Chief for a busy family of 5, I seem to always be searching for something (cell phone, diaper bag, camera charger, my children!) and if an appointment doesn't get written onto our large family calendar odds are it will be forgotten.

My attempt at a career with Stampin' Up! has been met with fervour and passion but a distinct lack of organization and trouble focussing on tasks which have led me to make the decision to step back for a bit. I'm not letting my Demonstrator status go just yet but I am actively re-evaluating how I want to proceed. How I can make it suit ME and how I can make it suit my family. I have been compiling a list of things to focus on in 2012 and Stampin' Up! is on that list (right now). Like Gretchen Rubin's 'The Happiness Project', it is my intention to focus on one thing every month for the year. Unlike her, my intention is not to see if I can achieve a greater sense of happiness out of it, merely to allow myself permission to work hard on one thing for a month.  I haven't figured out what order my 12 areas of focus will be yet but #1 will likely be CAREER as the pressure mounts to start contributing financially to the family.

Well, this post has become deeper and longer than intended so I think I'll leave off there. There will be changes coming down the pipeline at home and here on the blog so look out for them. Don't know what they are going to look like yet ... we'll be surprised together!!

I wish you and yours a Happy and Safe New Years Eve and a New Year filled with joy, love, laughter and creativity! See you 2012!!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Project 12 - November 2011

After all the Christmas product I've been working with all month it was a little strange to print off pictures from November and play with Fall colours and leaves. Strange, but fun! I used my Stampin' Up! Falling Leaves stamp set and this fun technique called rocking where you can blend ink colours onto your image just by how you rock the stamp around in the stamp pad. Anyway, onto my layout.

This was the sketch we were given,

I knew as soon as I saw this sketch that I was going to have fun with it. It sort of enables my addiction of piling on the photos, doesn't it? :)

Here's my take.

When I went back to look at my picture files from November I had PILES (pun intended) of the girls playing in the leaves, and not much else. There were a few taken from the girls' Remembrance Day assembly, which didn't seem to fit, and some of Paige's ballet class (Parent Observation Day) and then some of Greg's mustache. I'm thinking not much else happened!! Actually, I was trying to do lots of Stampin' Up! stuff so a lot of other things fell through the cracks.

This is the left hand side.

All the stitching is faux - done with my journalling pen. I also added it to each patterned paper square and the tags. It helps anchor everything and give it that finishing touch.

And the right hand side.

This morning, as I was about to take pictures of this layout, I decided it still needed something. So I added the vanilla ink around the edge of the brown card stock. NOW it's done!

Here are some close ups of the leaf and bling embellishments.

Okay, off to post it at Scrapbook and Cards today as well as Davinie's site. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

December Daily - The Lost Day

Well, it wasn't really lost, just slow to come together as I had to wait until the photos came in. Of course I am talking about Day 15 and our family portraits. Here it is, all done and quite lovely if I do say so myself.

Day 15:

Aren't they beautiful?

Here are the pictures - I scanned them on my printer and if you look really closely you can see the dust on the scanner glass. Oops! Oh well, it's just for sharing online. The originals will be hung up soon.

Marley, aged 7 (and 5/6ths!)

Paige, aged 5 (and 2/3).

Christine, aged 2 (and 3/4 - who shocked us today by peeing in the potty twice un-prompted. Yay!)

We loved this one of the girls laughing so we got it in 4x6 (all the rest are 8x10).

And our session bundle included a freebie so we got this one of Christine twirling. Since this is the first time getting formal portraits of her done, we figured we owed her!

On another note, I got my November layout done for Project 12. It's due tomorrow so I'll photograph it in the morning and post it for you. I have heard that Scrapbook and Cards Today will not be running P12 next year which makes me quite sad but I am determined to keep it up on my own. I love that I have the last 2 years recorded! Anyone want to join me? We could run our own challenge ... for bragging rights as I doubt anyone would sponsor me! :)

Anyway, that's  it for me tonight. See you tomorrow!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Finishing December Daily - Days 22 - 25

It's done!!!

Okay, almost ... I still have to scan in the professional pictures we had taken and add them to Day 15 ... but other than that, it's done!! Start the happy dance!!

Here are the last few days.

Day 22:
Another of those days where I took no pictures and there was no real "story to tell". So I printed off some virtual snowflakes the girls and I had made  earlier in the week, added a little journalling about what actually happened on the 22nd and called it done.

Day 23:

We hosted Grandma and Grandpa Day and the Nielsen's - Greg's sister Christine, and her family. We used the timer on my camera to take a group shot which I used in the cover page which is a flip out page protector. To the smaller flap I added the word 'family' - letters that were originally white but I spritzed the heck out of!! Then, since I'd used some platinum coloured Liquid Pearls on the snowflakes (see below) I added some as an embellishment below the word.

Here is the flap opened up to reveal the whole picture.

The full layout of cover page and main page.

A close up of the word 'family'.

And my playing with the Liquid Pearls!

On the back of the cover page I added some of the journalling strips I'd cut intending to put on the main page but once I'd added my bits of packaging, they didn't work. So they will live here now.

Each girl got what her heart most desired (even if her heart didn't know it!). Marley got a guitar (Heaven help us!!), Paige got a new Barbie car - a Fiat no less - and LC got the Dora doll she's been drooling over for months. It's got magic wings that unfurl and a magnetic wand that makes Dora talk and sing. Joy!

The back features a collage and some more journalling strips to complete the story of the night.

Day 24:

On Christmas Eve my brother Andrew and his family came over. We were not so organized and did not get  group pictures ... oops!

On the back of the cover page I added the tag from the Magic Reindeer Food we sprinkled on the lawn after everyone had left. Marley made it one year in Preschool and ever since then it's been a requirement around here!

Andrew plays a mean guitar so Marley was fairly beside herself waiting for him to arrive and show her some things on her new guitar. He was awesome! He tuned it (as best he could without a tuner) and then showed her a few fingerings. The guitar came with 3 fingering charts so he used those. She was thrilled!!

I think guitar lessons are in our future!!

Day 25:

I added some journalling strips to the brown tag on the cover that say:
"I want to remember: Marley's reaction to the keyboard - "This is the best Christmas EVER!!""

Here is the back of the cover page and the main page together. I added some journalling to the tag on the back of the cover page.

For whatever reason, I took pictures of our food this year. It seemed like I spent all the the 23rd - 25th in the kitchen so maybe it was only appropriate! For this page I feature the 3 main Christmas traditional foods we have around here. Once stockings are opened (or in this years' case because Paige and LC slept in, before) we have the Land of Nod Cinnamon Buns from the Best of Bridge cookbook. Then mid-morning we usually take a break in the present opening to have the Christmas Morning Wife Saver (also from the Best of Bridge). Then finally, the big event - the turkey. I use a recipe from Cooking Light magazine which calls for a garlic-herb mix to be rubbed under the skin. It's really yummy and super moist!

And last but not least, a collage of the events of the day. 
From the top left and moving clockwise: Paige saw this Rudolph stuffy at Shoppers Drug Mart when we were shopping for Marley's Christmas present and was reduced to tears when I forced her to leave it behind. So, even though the other two had already bought her a Christmas present, I went back and got it for her. She hasn't let go of it since!! Santa brought Lego this year so we had some fun building the kits that were in Marley and Paige's stockings. Grandma and Grandpa Day surprised us with an electronic key board. I think someone out there is trying to give us a hint! Maybe we need to branch out from our soccer-centric household!! Poppa Graham made his grandkids a Marbles game board each. Paige is addicted so it wasn't long before it was broken in! The stuffed stockings in the morning. Our over loaded tree! And in the centre - a group shot of us around the dinner table - using my new gift - a tripod!! Yay!!!

Well, there you have it. Another December Daily done. Christmas has come and gone and all that's left is a whole living room full of empty boxes and wrapping paper. The garbage and recycling men better bring extra vehicles this week!! 

I hope your Christmas was as joyous as ours. See you around!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

December Daily - Day 21

Found some time this morning to whip this up.

Day 21:

The cover page is a cut down baseball card protector sheet so I added a few pictures from our day and some patterned paper.

We went to the Vancouver Christmas Market which is in it's second year. It's a German style festival with lots of crafts for sale, yummy German food, and a great kids area where they can make some crafts. This year it was candle decorating and chocolate lollipop decorating. Plus there was a Carousel to ride. I made a collage for the main page. 

Here are some close up shots of the back of the cover page and the main page. 

On the back I did my journalling and added a photo that Marley took of me and an old friend that we ran into. She and I were both named Alison Campbell at one time so we used to be known as Sr (that was me) and Jr. We had fun reminiscing about our Christmas spent at my Grandpa's house in Glasgow, the Hogmanay (New Year's Eve) in Edinburgh and the trip around Ireland. All well before we had kids!!

Well, presents are wrapped, turkey is in the garage ... just need to bake some shortbread before my brother gets here tonight and we'll be set!
I wish you all a very Merry Christmas! Hopefully you are somewhere warm and dry surrounded by family. If not, I please accept my virtual hug as a substitute!! 

Friday, December 23, 2011

December Daily - Day 20

Getting caught up slowly but surely!
This page came together really quickly because I played with Ali Edwards' digital overlays to create my main page. I love this and may go mostly digital next year (gasp!)

Day 20:

To the back of the divider page I added the 'snapshots' tag, the note from the girls' advent calendar and the SC (for Santa Claus). I wasn't sure where else to put the note from their calendar but I quite like it here.

If you were following my DD last year you may remember that it was the first time in about 3 or 4 years that we've been able to get a decent picture of all the girls with Santa. Paige has been terrified of all people in costumes since a very young age. This year she showed excitement at the idea of going to see Santa so I was hopeful. But she blew me away! Not only did she sit on Santa's lap with Marley, she had several very lengthy conversations with him!! Way to go Paige!!

As you can see, LC is again on the rocking horse. She was feeling sleepy while we were waiting in line (past her usual nap time) so came over all shy when it was finally our turn. The rocking horse was brought out for her and then she was all smiles and giggles.

Here is a great picture of Paige and Santa deep in conversation and then the group hug at the end of the visit.  Paige looks a bit stiff but she did actively participate in the hug which is huge for her.

Okay, off to shower, get last minute shopping done and prepare for Grandpa and Grandma's arrival this afternoon. Whoot! Whoot! Bring on the parties!!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

December Daily - Days 16 - 19

Oh boy, seriously behind on posting this! I got these pages finished a few days ago but ... you know how it is at this time of year.

Without further ado ...

Day 16:
My overlay for this day was a 5x7 photo sleeve so I just slipped a photo of some of the baking I did into it.
I covered the back of the picture with patterned paper then added a journalling tag and another number 16.

The main pages talk about our shortbread tradition and how I baked 4 rounds of it on this day. Still need to bake more for us to eat as I ended up giving all this shortbread away!

Day 17:

We went out to Abbotsford for the annual Graham/Campbell/Day Christmas celebration. There was a lot of pictures taken so I added a couple extra pages.
The first was another 5x7 photo sleeve and I start the story of the celebration with pictures of Ina's surprised face when Dave and his girls showed up unexpectedly. He had called us earlier in the day to ask if we could pick him up at the airport - something we were only too happy to do! Since Makenna and Kole were coming too Greg had to pick them up in his car so I took the girls out to Abbotsford early and had fun (at Greg's expense) saying how tired he was and that he'd be joining us after his nap. Everyone thought he'd gone a bit soft in the head! But once Dave and the girls made their appearance, all was revealed and forgiven!

The back of the photo sleeve has a 5x7 photo of all 14 grandkids eating their dinner. Our family get togethers are always crazy - this year was no different. 14 kids ages 1 - 9 plus 11 adults means noise, noise and more noise!

But oh, so much fun!

Opposite that picture is a collage of shots taken from our annual concert. Those with musical talents get up and share them for everyone else. This year Joni showed off her new piano skills, Caleb his violin skills and Andrew and kids sang the 12 Days of Christmas for us. Us Days are generally a tuneless bunch so we abstain to protect everyone's ears!

What follows are more pictures of the surprise appearance of Makenna and Kole and then the first ever Re-Gift Exchange with the kids (mostly successful I think).

The last page has a picture I caught of LC and Sadie (2 months her senior) sword fighting with their forks at the dinner table. I love that we are close enough to the cousins for them to maintain and build actual friendships. Here is the 2 year old version!

Day 18:

Taking two cars out to Abbotsford meant that Greg and Marley could head in early for Marley's soccer tournament while Paige, LC and I could relax and play with Dave, Makenna and Kole. Ina played approximately 20 games of marbles with Paige - she's a game fiend!!! Luckily I think I know what was in that large, flat, rather heavy parcel we brought home with us!!!

After dinner I got to go out for some adult socializing. This year I joined a book club - something I belonged to PK (pre-kids) and loved so I'm super excited to be a part of one again. This month's meeting was more about the book exchange and cookie exchange than the book we were supposed to have been reading. Only the moderator (whose pick it was ) actually finished the book this month! 

But I did manage to snap a picture of us!

And then one of the treats I brought home - now mostly gone!

Day 19:

Today was the first official day of the Christmas break for Marley and Paige. To fill the time I had them make a little something for their Grandpa. The back of this page has a collage of the process and the results but since I know he reads my blog and I don't want to ruin the surprise ... that page will have to remain a mystery for now! Sorry!

As you can see though, it was colourful and the girls had fun. I don't normally let them play with paint as the mess drives me up the wall but this was different. This was for Grandpa!

Okay, that's as far as I got. Today was my appointment with the Orthopedic Surgeon I saw 16 years ago (sigh, I was 22 the last time he same me and now I'm ... you do the math ... with 3 kids ... time flies!) He's sending me for an MRI of my knee to see exactly what we are dealing with before deciding how to proceed.  I had to take the girls with me and they were so awesomely good. I love it when other people comment on what well behaved children I have. Makes me realize that perhaps I have done something right after all!

Okay, I'd better go and get dinner started. Have a wonderful night. Hopefully I'll get to the other days soon - I had to take a hiatus to deal with other important Christmas things like The Christmas Letter and Photos with Santa and Christmas Shopping. Greg's parents arrive tomorrow for a few days so I think tomorrow will be taken up with cleaning! With all 3 girls home all day, the house has developed a certain "shabby chic" look called "kids play/craft/toy clutter" that is completely out of hand! Sigh. I swear I just cleaned too!!