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7 Family Things for which I am Thankful

As mentioned in this post, this week I'm writing about Things for which I am Thankful*. Today's installment of thankful thoughts centers around things related to family.

  1. I am thankful to be married to the perfect man (for me).  He may not be perfect (who is??), but he's perfect for me.  We have a similar sense of humor, similar values & priorities, and similar tastes in entertainment and home decor.  All of the above have helped us stay strong for nearly 17 married years now - that and the fact that we've only tried to wallpaper together once.  That's a guaranteed marriage-buster right there - heed my words, newlyweds!

  2. I am thankful for my great kids.  Everyone says they have great kids, but I can say it with pride and confidence.  I'm not saying they don't give us a single moment's trouble, but our moments are pretty rare, and mild.  They are continuing blessings in my life - we enjoy our time together as a family.

  3. I am grateful for the many things we do together as a family - the four of us gather most nights for dinner, whether around the dinner table, or while enjoying one of "our" shows.  I cherish the times we watch shows or movies together, and am grateful we can usually decide what to watch together fairly quickly.

  4. I am thankful my parents and brother live here in Kansas City - it makes holidays much easier to coordinate, and and family get-togethers more frequent.  Not to mention, they're just generally nice to have around.

  5. I am thankful my in-laws also live here in town, and that I get along with them beautifully.  We generally see them several times a month, and I just can't imagine what those times would be like if we weren't so fond of each other.

  6. I am thankful my parents and in-laws are so involved in my children's lives.  They frequently attend school functions, and often take my kids to various appointments when we're at work.  The convenience factor is high and welcome, but I also appreciate the time that gives them with the kids.  I grew up with my grandparents three and four hours away, and saw them only for holidays and birthdays.  My kids know their grandparents as people, and that is a blessing for everyone involved.

  7. I am grateful my grandmother is still with us, and living here in Kansas City too.  She turned 90 this year, and can still be counted on for a quippy comment and some good stories.  She is a blessing at nearly every family gathering.

What are your family blessings?  It's time to count them!

* While grammatically correct, I realize this series title doesn't exactly roll off the tongue.  I'm open to suggestions. :)

6 Mom Things for which I am Thankful

As mentioned in this post, this week I'm writing about Things for which I am Thankful*. Today's installment of thankful thoughts centers around things related to motherhood.

As a mother, I am obviously thankful for my kids - I have a teen son and a pre-teen daughter.  They're just good kids - fun, funny, smart, outgoing, polite, helpful, caring, friendly... basically what you'd expect from the best kids on the planet.  I hear heart-wrenching parenting stories from friends and co-workers, and know I've got it pretty good with my kids. 

For this post, I thought I would list things that have helped me be a better mother, and have helped make life a bit easier.

  1. I'm grateful for all the classes I took in early childhood education in high school and college.  Understanding the different stages of child development and discipline techniques made all the difference when the kids were young.  (Of course, once they passed age 6, I was just as in the dark as every other parent, but those first six years of false confidence were great!)

  2. Also when the kids were young, I was newly connected to the Internet via AOL, and spent a lot of time in the Moms Online forum.  As a new transplant to St Louis at the time, I didn't have many friends in my new home, so it was so helpful to have a place to go when I had questions or needed to vent.  Now message boards and chats are much more prevalent and accessible, but just as useful for parents 'displaced' from local support networks.

  3. I was active in a Moms & Tots Activity club when the kids were in preschool - it was a local group of mothers that met several times a month to do fun things together, like play areas, pumpkin patches, apple picking, hayrides, and other family-friendly activities.  I was grateful at the time for the availability of an organized group that sought out and coordinated all these activities, and am grateful now to still be in contact with friends I made in the group.  Our kids are now preteens/teens, so our time together is much more Girls-Night-Out oriented, which works well for me.

  4. I'm thankful I got to stay at home with my kids when they were young, so we had the time and opportunity to go on said fun outings.  I'm so grateful that I was there for so many of their young moments of discovery and adventure, like blowing bubbles and shaving cream in the bathtub and countless visits to what my son called "castle park". I did work on and off as a administrative assistant temp to help out with finances, but stayed home for most of the first three years with both of them.  I like to think knowing I was there and available for them made a difference in the relationship we have today.

  5. I'm thankful my mother and mother-in-law live close by, and that I have a good relationship with both of them.  It's rare that a week goes by that I don't call one of them with one question or another, whether cooking, sewing, cleaning, or health-related.  Moms rock for knowing little things about life like that.  They are such a blessing of an informational resource (and just, well, you know, being a blessing as a part of our family and all that).

  6. Over the course of my "career" as a mother, I've read a lot to improve my efficiency and efficacy as a parent and homemaker (ok, I lie - there were days I desperately sought out anything that would help me get through the day - you know the kind of day I'm talking about...) Some books that helped me were What to Expect When You're Expecting, What to Expect the First Year, Sidetracked Home Executives, The Happiness File (out of print), Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems, and Confessions of a Happily Organized Family.  I also enjoyed subscriptions to Family Fun and Parents magazines, and made sure to always have a copy of local-centric Mother & Child Reunion handy.

See the rest of my gratitude series here.

* While grammatically correct, I realize this series title doesn't exactly roll off the tongue.  I'm open to suggestions. :)


8 Kansas City Things for which I am Thankful

As mentioned in this post, this week I'm writing about Things for which I am Thankful*. Today's installment of thankful thoughts centers around things related to my hometown, Kansas City.

  1. Kansas City BBQ - My personal favorite is Hayward's at 119th & Antioch, though I have been known to partake of Zarda's, Gate's, and Jackstack. I love that BBQ is so readily available all over the city, all with slightly different flavors, yet all still very Kansas City.

  2. The people - people are, for the most part, just generally nice here.  I've lived in several other cities, all in the Midwest, and visited other parts of the country, but like the people here best.

  3. The Social Media scene - Kansas City boasts a savvy community active in social media. We have our own chapter of the Social Media Club, and hosted a Chicks Who Click conference earlier this year. Various locally-based ad/marketing agencies specialize in social media tools, and are creating exciting, innovative projects (see VML and Sullivan Higdon & Sink, among others). You can check out some of these movers and shakers on my Twitter/Kansas City list.

  4. I-435 can get you just about anywhere - while I realize this isn't exactly true, it's generally true for me. I spend hours each week on I-435 during my 23-minute commute, but am grateful I don't have to take back roads to get into the "city" (which are actually suburbs).I can get just about anywhere I need to in about 20 minutes.

  5. The Crafty scene - while we have seen a painful decline in scrapbooking stores in KC, other crafty retailers seem to be doing well, and offer interesting, inspirational projects and classes. I particularly like Harper's Fabrics in downtown Overland Park, and Urban Arts + Crafts in North KC. And The Studio on the Plaza offers great knitting classes in a cozy, welcoming atmosphere. And don't think scrapbooking is entirely off the map here - The Scrapbook Page in Shawnee is top-notch, offering an impressive class schedule and customer service which makes them stand out from the 'box' stores. I am also grateful I have two unique groups of women to do crafty things with. My group of scrapbooking friends has been meeting quasi-monthly for nearly 10 years now, and comprises my closest friends. Discussion topics 'round the cropping table are wide and varied, providing a sounding board I don't have anywhere else. I'm a relative newcomer to my knitting group (I think it's been a year), but I've come to count on our meetings for knitty-yarny goodness and inspiration.

  6. Fall - While it's not Door County, Wisconsin, or the Ozarks, Fall is pretty here.  The leaves change color beautifully, and the snap in the air is quite tolerable.  Just chilly enough to make you put on something comfy and cozy that you probably wanted to put on anyway.

  7. Education - while some school districts in the metro area aren't what you might call 'stellar', mine is. We've been very pleased with the education our children have received/are receiving, and the encouragement they've received from multiple teachers. I've been really impressed with the Gifted/Advanced Studies and Debate programs specifically, and look forward to future experiences with the Band program. I also like that Kansas City offers a variety of options for post-secondary education. There are multiple community colleges, as well as public and private universities, and regents centers for other universities. UMKC hosts a "Communiversity" that offers community education classes, led by members of the community. Kansas City is a city that appears to value learning, and I like being a part of that.

  8. My family is here - My husband and I both grew up here, and both sets of parents still live in the area. My kids have grown up with their grandparents as an intimate part of their lives. Our parents are built-in babysitters and unconditional cheerleaders, and we are indeed blessed to have them so close at hand. I realize not everyone has that luxury, and I am grateful for it.
* While grammatically correct, I realize this series title doesn't exactly roll off the tongue.  I'm open to suggestions. :)

10 Geeky Things for which I am Thankful

During this week of (American) Thanksgiving, I proclaim my gratitude for the following Geeky things:

  1. Even while the wound is still fresh from the cancellation of Joss Whedon's Dollhouse, there is still hope in the Jossverse.

  2. Star Trek XI is out on DVD.

  3. Chuck returns 1/1/10.

  4. When one is both geeky and crafty, one can make cunning hats like this one. (I've made two)

  5. There is a veritable bevy of tech-savvy women out there, some whose works I've been following for years.  I am thankful for the inspiration they provide daily.  Some of my geek-girl crushes include Kim Dushinski, Heidi Miller, The Blog Squad, Lynette Young, Jessica Sprague, Linda Sattgast, Lorelle VanFossen, Zena Weist, Connie Bensen, Gina Trapani, Renee Pearson, Amy Edwards, & Margie Lundy.

  6. Considering said bevy of geeky women, there are unique networking events just for them, like She's Geeky, Geek Girl Dinners, and BlogHer.

  7. Twitter

  8. Sites like Amazon, Jinx! and ThinkGeek make one-stop holiday shopping

  9. Blogging - a forum which allows me to write, even when no one pays me for it, or even particularly cares to read it.

  10. mp3 players (I love my Sansa Fuze, especially for audiobooks)

  11. font websites like DaFont.com and 1001Fonts.com.  I also enjoy the Creative Characters newsletter by MyFonts.com.

  12. ...and my most favorite geeky things of all - my husband, daughter, and son.  Between gaming, comics/manga/anime, sci-fi/fantasy, debate, band, and IT, they have pretty much every geek category covered.  Geeks to the core, every one of them, and I <3 them.


6 Crafty Things to be Thankful For

As mentioned in this post, and in the spirit of Thanksgiving this week in the United States, I present to you Crafty Things to be Thankful For.

  1. Chunky Knits are a Fashion Trend.  You can wear all your hand-made items with pride AND be in vogue! And all your holiday gifts are a slam dunk.  Sweet.

  2. Hand-cutting all your titles and embellishments is a thing of the past, thanks to (fairly) recent inventions of the Cricut, the Gypsy, Sizzix Big Shot, Cuttlebug, and this cool cutter for fabric, the AccuQuilt Go.

  3. Photobooks combine (digital) scrapbooking with gift-giving.  OK, perhaps the wordsmith-y-ist turn of phrase, but I am just loving putting together photobooks for gifts.  I've created several, and done them different ways, from digitally scrapbooking the pages from scratch in Photoshop Elements, to digitally embellishing the photos with overlays and wordart, to just uploading photos and slapping 'em in the pages.  Any way will produce slick professional results.  I've created mine at Shutterfly, but also plan to try my friend Kim Guymon's business at Photobooks ETC.

  4. The Internet provides endless resources for crafty learning and inspiration.  Any crafty thing you want to know more about, or find a pattern for, or survey a group of enthusiasts about, you can find it online.  And that's a very good thing (especially for night owls, who like to craft into the wee hours of the morning!)

  5. The Internet also fosters crafty connections.  We don't have to hang our heads in crafty-geek shame - at any hour of the day or night, there is someone available who can understand and applaud our love of a good yarn (whether superwash merino, or scrapbook journaling!).  In fact, the Internet provides ways of proclaiming one's craft-geekiness - loud and proud.

  6. Digital scrapbooking continues to grow as a hobby, and inspirational and educational resources abound.  I remember the days, just a few years ago, when there were only a few community websites dedicated to digital scrapbooking.  Now digital storefronts open weekly (if not daily), and user-friendly programs and tools are readily available.  Digi designers are abundantly generous with their freebies, and thanks to open source programs like GIMP, anyone with a computer can try their hand at preserving their memories digitally.  Photosharing sites like Shutterfly, Scrapblog, and ArtsCow allow people to create digital photo collages and have them professionally printed - even if you have no interest in "digital scrapbooking', per se.
And because it's getting to be said wee hours of morning, I'll stop here for now.  I'd love to hear your thoughts of what crafty things you're grateful for this year!  Please feel free (indeed, encouraged) to leave a comment below.


New Series: Things to Be Thankful For

I recently read a post by GeekDad at Wired.com on 10 Geeky Things to Be Thankful For. I thought I would 'blog-lift' the idea, and put together my own list(s), but on a variety of topics, with the goal of a post on a different topic each day this week, in honor of Thanksgiving on Thursday (here in the US, anyway). 

Here are the topics I've chosen:

  1. Sunday: Scrapbooking/Crafty Goodness
  2. Monday: Geeky
  3. Tuesday: Kansas City
  4. Wednesday: mom
  5. Thursday: Family
  6. Friday: blogs/social media
  7. Saturday: books
Anyone care to join the challenge of creating a different topical gratitude list post every day this week? An ambitious goal for a holiday week, to be sure, but just the thing to get those blogging juices going!

Blogging for Scrapbookers: Scrapbook Someday

Prompt #12 of Shimelle's Blogging for Scrapbookers class suggests we create a new blog post category called something like "I will scrapbook this".  Because I like alliteration, I came up with (and created) a category for "Scrapbook Someday".  As in, "someday I will find/make the time to scrapbook, and when that day comes, I will scrapbook about this topic".

I had actually recently started a list for just this purpose - with real pen and paper, no less.  But I do like Shimelle's idea of blogging the list and/or individual topics, too.

Creating a list of layout topics really helps me be more productive at crops - not only is there less thinking involved at layout-creation time, but I can also track my way through an album-project, and make sure I don't leave anything out.  Plus I also like the satisfaction of crossing out or checking off (depending on my mood on any given day).

Shimelle's prompt actually encouraged using individual blog posts as a sort of 'placeholder' for the elements of an actual scrapbook page, when one doesn't have the time to actually scrap.  But I thought I'd use this post as a sort of 'brain dump' of pages and projects that are on my mind, and that I'd like to Scrapbook Someday.  As time goes along, I may create posts for individual projects (see my previous post, Cultural Education for Kids, for example), but the list idea is working for me today.

To Scrapbook Someday

  1. continue with pages in my son's Boy Scout/Eagle album:
    • Uniform Inspection 2002
    • Cub Scout Den 2003
    • Pinewood Derby 2003
    • Raingutter Regatta 2003
    • Pinewood Derby 2004
    • Troop picture 2005
    • Bartle 2005
    • Bartle 2006
    • Bartle 2007
    • Bartle 2008
    • Philmont 2008 (token layout, to mark its place in his scouting 'historical timeline')
    • Bartle 2009
    • Eagle Ceremony 2010 (fingers crossed!)
  2. Philmont 'speed-scrap' pocket page album
  3. Philmont digi photobook
  4. Vegas trip 2008 (or was it 2007?  obviously the memories are fading already!)
  5. Digi-scrapped Memory game for my niece
  6. Colorado vacation photobook
  7. school art project "portfolio" photobook
  8. "A Love So True" grandparents tribute album
  9. "Introducing the Classics"/Cultural Literacy album
  10. First Day of School album
  11. Charity crochet/knitting projects layout
  12. Star Trek movie premiere, opening night May 2009
  13. Mother-Daughter pedicures
  14. High School Debate layout(s) - I'd love for this to be a full album, showing the chronology like the Boy Scout album, but don't think that many pictures will find their way to me.
  15. "Fell" - pictures showing all the autumn leaves on the ground in our back yard

That should keep me busy for a while!  :)

Do you have any scrapbooking/memory-preservation goals or plans? Feel free to link to a similar list on your own blog in the comments!


Blogging for Scrapbookers: Making a Plan and Sticking to It



I'm taking Shimelle's latest online class, Blogging for Scrapbookers.  When I first mentioned this in a Twitter/Facebook update, I got several comments asking if I shouldn't be the one teaching this class.  Which I appreciated.  But since Shimelle is the one that actually got off her butt to put the class together, and since we're friends, I thought I'd support her and sign up for her class.  Plus, I could use the blogging inspiration.  If you follow this blog at all, you may have noticed I've been blogging only sporadically for about the past year.  If I'm the writer I say I am, that needs to change.  I'm hoping Shim's class will be the inspiration I need.  And look, it's already worked!

Today's prompt is about setting goals and blogging/scrapbooking about them.  A thought-provoking prompt, and one I'll need to come back to this week.  So there's my first goal - blog more this week!