Thursday, October 29, 2009

Time to check in

It's been another very long week.

Things continue to be difficult at school- everyone is still angry, depressed and upset, and I am sure will continue to be throughout the year.

I have had two severe migraines in the last week- certainly a result of exhaustion and stress. Had to go to bed this afternoon for hours to knock out today's headache. :(

How about some good news?

People who don't understand sometimes make fun of the idea of "online friends". Too bad for them- they are really missing out. Years ago no one thought the idea of pen-pals was odd, but taking this concept into the internet age seems alien to a lot of people. One of my favorite books and movies is "84 Charing Cross Road", the story of a 20 year correspondence that leads to a wonderful friendship between two people who never meet. See the movie if you get a chance- Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins are marvelous in it.

Anyway.... back to the topic here. The card above came from my kind and caring Internet friend Shirley. I so wish that the scan did it justice- the shimmery paint on the fish is gorgeous! You really must check out her blog- her cards are always so beautiful! She is so thoughtful- this card was waiting for me when I came home from a particularly bad day at school and really cheered me up! Thanks SOOO much, Shirley!

I have received other cards, and lots of emails and messages, from "online friends"- which has really helped make these last few painful weeks a little easier. I really appreciate my online friends!

Another good thing was my scrapbooking weekend! I spent two days with good friends, we laughed a lot, we got some work done, and I was able to focus entirely on something else for a little time. I took the pieces to begin working on the album from our cruise to Bermuda in 2007. I didn't get any actual pages done, but I did get all my pictures cropped and matted and in order. I used the Perfect Layers rulers to do all the matting- these are getting VERY hard to find and I hope someone starts selling them again- I showed about 5 people how to use them and now they all want them as well.

We visited a little scrapbooking shop near the camp and I get a terrific tee-shirt. It says "iScrap" and is purple to match my iPhone! I also found some blades for a paper trimmer that I bought years ago and really like but hadn't been using because the original blades wore out, plus a few other things. I also bought a LOT of Creative Memories supplies this weekend- several album kits, plus a couple tools- I really think CM makes great quality tools. AND.... I won a raffle and got a complete Black & White 12 x 12 Power Palette- it is GORGEOUS!!!!

The most important part of the weekend, of course, was spending time with a great bunch of ladies, particularly my Flybaby friends. We always have so much fun and they are wonderful friends.

Well, the Phillies just lost, but that's ok- they won last night and they now come home to play. Sunday will be wild with the Eagles in the afternoon and the Phillies at night- not going to get much done then! Time now to get things ready for the morning- however much I may fall off the FlyLady wagon in other ways, she certainly has helped me with making my nighttime routine a ritual I cannot go to bed without finishing. And, in spite of 5 hours sleep this afternoon, I am ready for bed.

Hope everyone has a good day tomorrow!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

On to the World Series!!!!

There won't be much sleep around here tonight- the fans are celebrating, the horns are honking and the helicopters are hovering.

ETA: 1:10 AM and little if any noise abatement- it's going to be real hard to wake up by 6 AM!!!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Life is like this....

....pretty much a roller coaster these days.

The general situation at school continues unchanged- sadness, frustration, anxiety, anger and fear. Not knowing what is going on or what is going to happen is making everyone edgy. Children need to choose new schools, staff (maintenance, cafeteria, secretarial and support) need to find new jobs and teachers won't know until June or later if we will have a job at another school in the system.

On the other hand, there are the PHILLIES!!


I'd decided quite a while ago that a Kindle was going to be my Christmas list for this year. With the overwhelming number of books we already own, and the need to downsize looming, it seemed the perfect idea. I "practiced" to see if I would like it by downloading the Kindle app and one book onto my iphone and I actually found I enjoyed reading that way. Not MORE than from a "real" book, but I was just as happy perusing the words and stories as from a real book. (Yes, you can use your iphone as a Kindle but with the battery life comparisons- iphone is only good for a couple hours when using the screen full time- not really a practical alternative for an avid reader like me.) Today my always tech-savvy DS warned me NOT to ask DH for a Kindle as I definitely wanted the new Barnes & Noble Nook instead. Just a little research convinced me that, as usual about anything like this, (he was the one who insisted I "wanted" an iphone- and he was totally right about that, once I had one!), he is right! So, now my Christmas list is a Nook!

More on the happy side, I am leaving for a scrapbooking/papercrafting weekend on Friday with a terrific bunch of friends. We always have a wonderful time together and I am SOOOOO looking forward to it.

On the stress side, however, the Phils play tonight, I am out most of tomorrow afternoon and evening taking Mom to an event she really wants to attend, and I am TOTALLY not ready. Gotta do laundry, gotta pack clothes, etc., gotta pack all my necessary tools and supplies, gotta clean out the car trunk to make room for all the stuff, gotta make a grocery store run for snacks and goodies, gotta load the car, and gotta do all this before bed tomorrow night while working tomorrow day! ACK!!!!!

Guess I should go do something, huh?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

A Truly Horrible Week

First, I need to show you one of the few high points of a really terrible week. This absolutely gorgeous card arrived the other day, from my wonderful, dear friend Celia.

When I posted last Saturday I was in what I thought was the end stage of my sinus infection- which I was. However, Saturday night I was suddenly in incredible pain, which lasted for 36 hours. Monday morning I woke up (after 36 hours of pain killers and ice packs) to not only excruciating pain in my face and jaw, but a mass near my back teeth that pushed my face out so far I was distorted and deformed- I looked like someone made up for a monster movie, or as an alien in a sci-fi show.

A trip to the dentist was immediately followed by a trip to the oral surgeon for emergency oral surgery- the mass had to be opened and drained and the tooth it was attacking removed. More pain and swelling, another couple days of no food, lots more meds. I finally returned to work on Wednesday, weak and exhausted, but there.

Returning to school meant returning to an angry and heartbroken faculty and staff, and traumatized and distraught students. The rest of the week was like a never-ending wake. Confusion, anger, frustration, depression, tears; these are now the ruling emotions.

How this will all end I do not know. I do know that an immense amount of psychological trauma has been caused and that not only the children but their families, the teachers, and the staffs are going through a terrible experience. Whatever the final outcome, dreadful emotional scars are being inflicted on thousands of people.

I did have one very nice experience today. While I was having lunch with a friend in a restaurant that our faculty visits on occasion, a woman approached me. She said "I heard you mention where you teach. I teach at (a local private Catholic school) and I want you to know that our faculty all feel awful about what you are going through and we are all praying for you."

I think that is what we all need most now. If you pray, please keep my students, their families, and all my colleagues in your prayers. Thank you.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


I rarely post here about my work so most of you know little about it.

I teach in an inner city Catholic High School. As the cost of tuition, although far lower than any private school, has continued to rise, the neighborhood surrounding school has declined and the economy has hit our parents hard. Thursday afternoon we learned that our beloved school would be closing at the end of this school year.

I have loved the kids at this school since the day I arrived there. They are wonderful. Our school has a population that the word diverse fails to cover- they are from every racial and ethnic background, many religions, many cultures, and span the socio-economic scale from poverty to well-to-do. They come to us as freshman from their own neighborhoods and learn in 4 years to see only people. They are a living, breathing embodiment of Dr. King's goal: they judge by the content of character and not color of skin.

Yesterday was a day of bitter tears. The grief was palpable in the hallways. Our children are devastated. I was overwhelmed however, not by the magnitude of their grief for themselves, but by the compassion and caring that they, the children, found and expressed for the adults.

The kids spent yesterday asking favorite teachers "where will you be next year?- I'm going wherever you are going". When we had to tell them that we do not know where, or even if, we will be teaching next year they were stunned and angry for us. Even as they dealt with the idea that they will have to choose new schools for next year and will be separating from their friends, they worried about us.

Some of our teachers have spent their adult lives at our school. Several of these are also graduates. The kids were so sensitive to the feelings of those adults most affected and most hurt that it was one of those times when pain and joy were inseparable. To see the young people seek out those adults, to watch them offer to the adults their caring at this time, was both awe-inspiring and heartbreaking. It was the final proof of the success of our school.

Something very special died on Thursday. We are now in the immediate grief stage. We will have a long time until the burial in June. During that time we will continue to bond, to do our eulogies, and remind everyone of our wonderful history and magnificent legacy. Our school family and community will create memories and memorials so that no one will ever forget the greatness of who we were and are. "We are CD!"

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Amazing Blog-versary Stitcher's Giveaway

This is just one of several pictures for an incredible giveaway over at Annette's Acre. Click on the picture to go to her blog and enter the draw.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Weekly Tatting Giveaway Reminder!

It's that time again- Make sure you check out the weekly giveaway! (Just click on the picture to get there.)

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Digital Scrapbooking Decision

Well, as they used to ask on TV, is this my final answer? YES!

I did literally weeks of research on digital s
crapbooking. Getting past the hype at the websites is NOT easy. I looked for online communities for each software, reviews, examples. I trolled hundreds of blogs and websites to see what others were saying about the various options available. I posted and asked questions. I tried several. I read a LOT.

I got a demo disc from my rep for Creative Memories Storybook Creator Plus. GREAT program. Rave reviews everywhere. One problem: CM only allows you to install the software on one (1) computer. I switch back and forth regularly between my home desktop and my laptop. I take the laptop when I travel, when I go on scrapping and crafting weekends, and the laptop is the only computer at the shore. But, I don't use it at home. I called CM and was told I would have to buy the software twice to use it on two (2) computers- and at the price, that was not happening. End of CM research.

I looked briefly at ScrapbookMax but the reviews were not so great.

Then came the foray with Memory Mixer. Great reviews. I ordered it, with a 30 day return option. It is a good program- I found it easy to use as soon as I loaded it. I could be very happy with this as my
program, but I found too little support on the Internet. There are just not enough people out there posting about using MM. I got a lonely feeling using it.

After all that, I finally picked Polaroid's My Memories Suite. I think (hope!) I'm going to love it. It does a ton of stuff- not only pages and books, but CDs, DVDs, all kinds of interactive things that can also include music, video and narration. I found several good support groups, including one at Digital Scrapbook Place. The seemingly wider usage of MMS suits me best. Having several communities of users to interact with will make the learning easier.

I did go through the "couldn't I learn to do this on Photoshop Elements if I really tried?" phase. The answer, of course, is yes, but the "really trying" is just not something I see happening right now. I have
PSE (although the dreaded version 4) and played with it a little bit just to see what I could manage. Here's the result:

I decided to take a royalty-free image I had on my computer and make my own (for giving to others, not for me, lol) Blog Award. Starting with the image, I added a frame (which doesn't show!) and some text. This took me the better part of an hour and a LOT of frustration and led to the answer (re: PSE): yes, I could but I do NOT want to! The dedicated scrapbooking programs may not be as sophisticated as PSE, but my goals are well within the capabilities of these programs and I won't be aggravated!

So, look for some digital scrapbooking to appear here from time to time. Hopefully, soon! (And, watch for my award, appearing soon at a blog near you!)

Saturday stuff

Today is World Cardmaking Day! For all the papercrafters out there, its an excuse to "have" to play with the paper and stamps and such. It's a good time to get started on your Christmas cards. AND.... if you have time today (or anytime!), why not make some cards for Operation Write Home? OWH sends blank handmade cards to troops overseas so they have something NICE to write home on.

Not a cardmaker? Check out their website for other ways you can help this wonderful project!

I am heavily but carefully into FlyLady mode today. We are getting new windows next week and a total clean-out/re-organization of the bedroom is necessary. Lots of things need to be sorted and lots of furniture needs moving. So this is a chance to do a major rescue of the room.

However, I am also still very much in recovery mode. I continue to be under the influence of whatever virus it was that first attacked me 12 days ago so I get tired really easily. I'm long past the contagious stage but not past the "I feel like a wet dishrag" stage.

So, FlyLady's 15 minutes plan is the order of the day. I work for 15 minutes and then rest until I feel like I can do 15 minutes again. Progress is SLOW but it is definitely there.

I am SOOO looking forward to the new windows as an excuse to do some other re-decorating. New windows call for new curtains, and that calls for maybe a new carpet? It'll be NICE!

Don't forget that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month! Don't forget to use the link on my sidebar to Click to Give!

For the stampers, make sure you check out The Cottage Studio- Belinda Landtroops blog for Clear Artistic Stamps. They not only have a sale going on, but there's also some TERRIFIC blog candy at this POST.

How about the digi-scrappers? There's a Blog Train for free digital supplies going on this week. Some really beautiful papers and elements are available.

I'll be adding sections for supplies and blogs about Digital Scrapbooking to my sidebar soon. I'm still trying out various software programs to see which I like best. There are SOOO many sites out there dedicated to digi-scrapping and I am determined to learn this new skill and use it for my heritage pictures so I can share them with the family.

Well, time to do another 15! Have a great weekend everyone!