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Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Mmmm, warm cookies. Fresh from the oven. The smell of spices wafting in the air. The sound of carols playing, and the twinkling of the lights and decorations. I love this time of year!

Cookies are one of my favorite treats all year long. At Christmas, I bake many more types of cookies. Just adds to my love of the season!

Just thought I'd take a break to wish you all a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holiday Season, and many blessings for health, prosperity and peace in the New Year!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Natural Advocate

Just need to boast a bit. All of my children are amazing. They teach me so much and have opened my eyes to things that I never experienced before.

My youngest son, Patrick, did something today that adds to my amazement. Last Thursday night we were having a discussion about how much it bothers him when kids tease other kids that are challenged. He told me that he has witnessed a bit of this at school. He wanted to make a difference. He wanted to address the kids at school about it. I suggested he first talk to his teacher.

Friday (the very next day) he came home and told me he had spoken to his teacher and the autistic support teacher for his grade level. They both thought it was a great idea. So they set up a time for Patrick to address his fellow students.

Over the weekend, Patrick wrote up what he wanted to say. I told him how proud I am of him and how much I wanted to be there when he did this. At first he wanted me there too. Then he said "Mom I don't want you to be there. I want the kids to know this is coming from me."

This morning, he made his presentation. His teacher emailed me:
"Patrick did an AMAZING job! In fact, he brought tears to my eyes. He was so sincere and passionate about what he was discussing, I truly believe it impacted the kids. The kids listened so intently and afterward they too shared people that they know that had challenges: cousins, brothers, friends, etc... It was quite a powerful morning. Thank you for raising such an WONDERFUL child!!"

I'm so very proud of him.

Here is what Patrick shared with his classmates:

"You may think this is boring, but it will change how others feel.

When it comes to people, there is no normal. Normal is just a setting on the washing machine. That’s a favorite saying of my mom and me.

I’d like to challenge the way you treat people with challenges. And I’m not just saying people that have autism, I’m saying about anything, blind, disabilities with speech, in a wheelchair, any challenge. I’m doing this because it bothers me when you tease, laugh at, or harass any kids with special needs. I have a brother that is challenged, I’m sensitive to this and it offends me.

How do you feel when someone teases you? Or leaves you out of a game? It hurts. Well you are hurting them and me too.

Everyone has differences, no matter who they are. I have differences, you have differences, and you have differences, everyone has differences. Some may be more noticeable than others. But they are just differences.

Are you afraid of someone that is different than you? Why? They are kids too, and they are one of us. Getting to know them can be fun and teach you new things. For example, my brother is very funny and he knows more trivia than this whole class combined.

Plus, you might just gain a new friend. You don’t have to become friends, but you should include them, be nice, not tease or laugh at them, or anything mean. There is just no reason for that. You’re only making it harder for them to be part of the group, and you’re missing out on getting to know them and how cool and fun they can be.

How about if you had a challenge in your life, how would you feel? Think about if you were in a wheelchair, or blind, or had trouble understanding what is going on, or had noticeable behaviors and someone laughed at you for that.

Keep in mind how you would feel. Treat people the way you want to be treated… nicely!"

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Basket Case (card)

My mother loves baskets. She has many in her home and they are decorated so sweetly. I wanted to make a special card for her birthday.

I kept thinking that I want a basket on it. I don't have any basket stamps or die cuts. So... I made one! I wove a basket out of strips of cardstock. Then decorated it with flowers.

I didn't keep track of exact measurements while I was making it. But I did take photos.

I cut strips for the vertical straps 3/4" wide and for the horizontal straps 1/2" wide. Cut one additional 1/2"strip with one long edge mini-scalloped. This will be the top rim of the basket. And another thin strip to use as the handle.Cut another thin strip of a different color to accent the scalloped edge of the basket rim.
I inked the edges of all the strips to add depth to them.

Then cut a piece of plain (white) cardstock to be the base to weave your strips around. This will be the size of the basket.

First, lay the vertical strips evenly spaced on the white cardstock base. Fold them under the bottom edge of the cardstock.

Next weave the horizontal strips over and under (andalternating) the vertical strips.I also folded a thin strip around the cardstock at the bottom.

Now fold the horizontal strips around to the back of the base andsecure.

Next, adhere the alternate color strip under the top rim strip (scalloped). Now secure that as the top of the basket.

Now you can secure the handle, using a brad for detail. Adhere the entire basket to a card front. Embellish with flowers and stamps and other details.

Hope you enjoy this one!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Making Memories

"You never know when you could be making a memory" A great quote! I had a chance to make some memories this weekend. My youngest son (Patrick) has dabbled in making cards and scrapbook pages and other crafty things. (see Scrapper in the Making). A friend of mine asked if he and I could make some cards for her. She wanted cards that she could use for her son's teachers at the holidays.

Sounded like a fun project. At first Patrick had no clue what to design. He looked at a few examples. He really liked a card he saw by Kim Hughes. So we scrap-lifted it. This was our first design:

We really had fun with this one. We even used an older (1958) Singer sewing machine to so the straight stitches. The zig-zags were done by hand.

This card may have been a bit too Christmas-y for the recipient, so we set out to design something different. We both liked the basic layout, so we stayed with that, but changed out the main elements. Watching the birds empty our feeders this time of year inspired this next design:

Since the cards would be coming from my friends son, I wasn't sure that this was the best design for him. So we came up with a third one that was non-religious and non-gender specific. Snowflakes! At least, I don't think I've ever read about snowflakes having a gender! LOL

This is the winning card! Inside each, Patrick placed an apple with holly leaves. As he said "an apple is the classic gift for teachers".

We set out to make some cards for a friend. What we ended up making was far more valuable. We made memories. We had fun working together, getting covered in adhesives and embossing powders, losing and finding strips and scraps of paper, chatting, laughing and sharing time together.

You just never know when you could be making a memory!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Thinking INSIDE the box

OK, so typically we are trying to think of new ideas, creative and onnovative ways of doing things. And we call it "outside the box". In this case, I went INSIDE the box, lol !! I've been making so many holiday cards, that I wanted a place to keep them. So I built a box!
I'm sharing the instructions here with you. Hope you'll have fun with this. I've created one in very bright colors to keep birthday and all occasion cards that I've made too. It's fun and quick to do. Hope you enjoy!

Leave me a comment. I'd especially love to see what you make.

Card Box Instructions:

(click on the images to view larger)

12x12 cardstock for the box
10x6.5 cardstock for the lid
Ribbon (optional)
Eyelets (optional)
Magnets or Velcro (optional, I used Basic Grey's magnets)
Additional cardstock and embellishments as desired

1. Score the 12x12 cardstock at .75", 2.75", 9.25" and 11.25" on one length (as shown)
2. Score at 6" and 9" on the other length of that cardstock (as shown)
3. Cut at the red lines in the image, cutting away the 2 lower corners
4. Fold at score marks and assemble the box using adhesive
(I used additional cardstock scraps to reinforce the box for added strength
5. Round the front corners if you like.

1. Score the 10x6.5" cardstock at 4" and 7" on the 10" length as shown
2. Adhere the 3" section of the lid to the top/back of the box to create lid
3. Round the front flap corners if you like
4. If desired, punch holes in the sides of box and set eyelets. Insert ribbon and tie knots on the ends to create handle

1. If desired, attach magnet (or Velcro) where box front and lid flap/front meet to close. Cover magnet with scraps of cardstock and embellish. I used a circle punch to cut the cardstock for the magnet covers

I made a large box (using the measurements above) to hold 6.5"x5" cards. I scaled the size down to make a smaller one to hold notecards. Here are some photos of the boxes and the large one open with some of the cards:

Friday, October 31, 2008


Busy day today. Not much time for posting. So I'll just let you gaze at our jack-o-lanterns! Notice the one that says "Fright this way" (Patrick's) had a mysterious glow above the finger when I took photos of it. They were all taken against the same dark background. No objects to reflect light, I didn't use the flash. Must be some Halloween spirits???? Muahahahahah....

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

And here is the card....

The card that Patrick created.......

and the inside....

Monday, October 27, 2008

Scrapper in the making!

Last night, Patrick saw me head for my craft table where I've been working on Christmas cards lately. He asked if he could design one of his own. Being thrilled to have a potential scrap-mate, I said "Sure!"

He then had a seat at the table and told me to go find somewhere else to work! He set about designing a card. He stamped images, colored, used the paper trimmer. He even heat embossed and used Stickles!

He set the makings to dry over night and will be finishing up the card later today. I'll be certain to post it when it is done.

Of course, I couldn't let this memory go by without recording it! So I took some photos of him working intently. Then I made a quick digi page from them.

He sure is my son!

Friday, October 24, 2008

When did this happen?

On school picture day for Chris, I totally forgot to send the envelope in. So he will get his picture taken today, retake day. Which worked out for us. Gave me a chance to take Chris shopping for an outfit.... he actually enjoyed picking out clothes that he wanted, rather than stuff "mom bought" !!

Then I was able to convince him to get a haircut last night (he's been into the mop look that most teenage boys have been sporting!)

So this morning he came downstairs all dressed and ready.... and he suddenly looked like a teenager. When did this happen?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Little things

Sometimes we get so swept up in all the concern and attention of the "big things" that we forget about the "little things". So I'm taking a step back to make sure the little things are in my view. I've added to my list of projects a "Day in the Life" mini-album.

Right now I'm collecting some photos to include. Things I normally would not have photographed. Because they are the little things. And they would be overlooked and taken for granted.

Yet they are the core of our daily experiences. They help make us who we are, how we react, how we handle ourselves. They are the building blocks to our memories.

I'll keep you posted as I progress with this project.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Denis Leary - does he know autism?

You've all seen the headlines, Denis Leary wrote a book. In it he has a chapter titled "Autism Schmautism" in which he makes what appears to be very derogatory comments about autism and the families that deal with autism. He claims he is being misunderstood. That his comments were taken out of context. That people have not read all of the chapter. You can read more about all over the internet.

Appears to me like he has used autism to help promote the selling of his book. I'm not liking that. But maybe, he is misunderstood. Just like our loved ones with autism. So let's give him the benefit of the doubt. But not at our families expense. I've written a letter. I'm asking him to post the entire chapter for all to read and better understand his intent. And ask that you do the same. I've also asked him to donate the proceeds to further the cause of autism awareness.

Here's my letter:
October 16, 2008
Dear Mr. Leary,

The excerpts from your book have caused quite an uproar. Especially in the autism community. The statements that were released are provoking, to say the least. You claim they are taken out of context. Well, then give us the context. Make it right.

I am a member of the autism community. I am mother to three children, two of which are on the autism spectrum. I am the facilitator of a support group for parents of children and adults with autism and other neurological disorders. I am on the board of directors for NeighborHeart, an organization dedicated to increasing awareness and providing funds directly to families to help improve their quality of life.

So yes, I know “firsthand” about autism. I know how easily misunderstood it can be. I know how unaware many people are about what autism is, how it affects people and families and society. This is why I’d like to give you the opportunity to be understood yourself. People may be misunderstanding your writings because they don’t see the whole picture. So let us see it. But not so that you can profit from other’s diagnoses. Post the content of the chapter dealing with autism for all to read and judge you on your intent, not their misunderstanding. Publicize it as well as you have publicized the controversy.

You have shown the world your compassion through your work on behalf of firefighters. Show us the compassion that you have for the autism community. Put your money where your mouth is (or pen in this case). Donate the proceeds from the selling of your book to NeighborHeart (www.neighborheart.org/Default.asp) and help to bring awareness, understanding and acceptance.

Let me know your thoughts, I'd love to hear them. And share your letters too!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


It's hard for me to believe that my youngest "baby" is now 11 years old.


Monday, October 13, 2008


I know it may have been a long time ago, but I do remember graduating from high school. I even went on to college and completed my degree. So why is it that I am still doing high school homework? And middle school and grade school homework too for that matter! LOL

Christopher has an assignment for English class to look into his ancestry and their cultures. He decided to learn more about our Austrian heritage. He chose a food to represent the culture. If they choose a food for the project, they must bring it in. Now that is one smart English teacher!
Christopher chose Vánoèka . It's pronounced Va-nooch-ka. It is a classic Austrian/Czech. Christmas bread. Amazingly he was able to research the culture and ideas for the project without my help!
This turned into a homework project that I really enjoyed helping with. It takes about 6 hours to make this bread. I loved having that time with Chris to chit-chat and work together. He seemed to really enjoy it too!
There is orange rind, almonds, dark and golden raisins in this bread along with some seasonings. The bread smelled wonderful throughout the process. After it baked, we could hardly wait to try it.
Christopher has asked if we could set aside time each Christmas to bring this tradition back to our family. Now those are the moments that we live for!

Mostly, we made a disaster of the kitchen! The bigger the mess you make, the more fun the cooking!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Come on Home!


Oreo is now home! and resting comfortably in a basket along side me while I work.

Yesterday I was getting conflicting reports from the doctors at the animal hospital. They seemed to think there was a reason to keep the catheter in longer, yet they were saying that there appeared to be no solid blockage and that it was the bladder spasms and swelling from being catheterized that was now causing Oreo to not be able to urinate. Which is what caused them to re-insert a catheter on Tuesday morning (after several hours without one overnight Monday and no urine). I kept asking if keeping the catheter in was really the best coarse.

Ended up having our vet contact the animal hospital vet. Our vet then called me and filled me in. She was in disagreement with a few things that the hospital did, and felt that it was in Oreo's best interest to have the catheter removed, then be observed for several hours. She actually felt he would perform better at home in a relaxed setting (away from the dog), only if we could watch him through the night. If he re-blocked, he would need medical attention immediately since we now know how badly his kidneys were affected.

So we contacted the hospital and finally got to speak to the doctor that was actually assigned to Oreo's case. She was working the night shift. She agreed to pull the catheter. We lucked out and only had haircuts and Religious Ed on the schedule last night - no football practice (yeah!), so we were able to make a family trip over to visit Oreo. Well minus Chris, as it was his night with his dad. He was bummed that he couldn't go.

Little Kevin was so excited to see his buddy. On the drive over he was stimming so much he was rocking the car!!! It was really great to see Oreo. He has lost some weight, his eyes look really tired, and his skin is extremely dry. His nose was not it's usual bright pink color. He kept nuzzling with the kids and us, and wanted only to be pet and loved! He even got a few drops of urine out while we were there. We did see that he ate a little of the prescription food too. His nose pinked up a bit while we were there too. But was not quite normal. We decided to leave him at the hospital since we really could not sit up over night to watch him. They were not going to release him anyway.

I just made the call to the hospital to see how he is doing....... He is ready to come home! 6 days in the hospital with tubes and all that. I'll bet he will be so happy to come back home. Of course he'll have to deal with Peaches and Java giving him the cold shoulder cause he'll smell like the hospital. They'll get over it! It will be so good to have him back home!!

I plan to pick him up at lunch break and work from home this afternoon so I can keep an eye on him.

And I know 3 boys that are going to be thrilled to see him when they get home from school!!

Thanks everyone for your prayers and encouragement.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

More on Oreo

Unfortunately I don't have much good news. There is some... his kidney levels are within normal range! YEAH!

However, when they removed the catheter, he was not able to move urine (other than a few drops) on his own. It may be due to spasms and swelling from having had a catheter for so long.

They have reinserted the smallest catheter that they could. It will remain in place for 24 hours. Then he will be observed. Hopefully he will begin to flow on his own.

I miss my buddy.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Oreo Update

His kidney function is improving! But not enough to come home yet. Hopefully tomorrow.


Oreo is one of our cats. He was abandoned outside my office at just 2 weeks old. I rescued him from the landscapers approaching lawn mowers. Brought he and his sister home. She is named Java. This was 3 years ago.

This past Friday, Oreo did not seem his usual self. Very lethargic. He was still not looking well Saturday morning. So my husband and I met the vet when she opened at 9am. Turns out Oreo has a life-threatening condition. He has crystals, or small stones that obstructed his bladder and caused his systems to back up. His kidneys were shutting down. The vet was able to do a procedure to unblock him, but his kidneys were so bad that he needed to be at a hospital with 24 hour care. So we transported him Saturday afternoon. They have been monitoring him. Last night there was a positive sign, his kidneys are starting to improve. We are hoping that will continue and he will be back home soon.

Oreo will now have to be on a prescription diet to hopefully prevent this from happening again. Poor guy! We are really missing him. Especially my one son, Kevin. Kevin has autism and forming relationships is difficult. But he and Oreo have connected. Oreo even comes to say "goodnight" and prayers with Kevin every night. Oreo will jump on Kevin's bed and snuggle with him as we say prayers and chat. Last night while going through the nighttime routine, Kevin was saying how he was missing Oreo, and much to our surprise, Java (the shy sister cat), jumped up on the bed and snuggled with Kevin! Wow. The power of the animal spirit.

Keeping our fingers crossed that Oreo will be back home soon!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

My Kind of Homework!

Patrick needs to have a "Writers Notebook" available at school. It should be a stury notebook, that is easy to write in. The pages must be light colored and lined. The student's will be using them to record their feelings and reactions. A journal of sorts. For emerging writers. It can be designed to match their personality and inspire them.

I just loved this assignment! I bought a sturdy notebook on sale for cheap and then I got to dig through my scrappy stash and find all sorts of items to help create a cover that is Patrick. I found some papers that are textured and colored like a football and basketball. And the background paper had the number 39 on it, so I made sure to lay it out so I could bring attention to that (it's his football number this year). Here is what I made:

Monday, September 8, 2008

FUMBLE!! ... recovery!

After changing the time to move it up, then canceling the game on Saturday due to the rain..... we (Patrick's team) got to play Sunday morning........

The Northampton Indians had a very tough, very exciting game away against the Marsh Creek Eagles yesterday. Every play had the fans tense. The players gave it their all! Marsh Creek was first to score with a 65 yard run for a touch down, but they chose to run in the extra point making it 0-7 (in pop-warner/pee wee running in = 1 point, kicking it = 2 points). But our Indians came back and scored a touch down AND kicked in the extra point to take us up 8-7.

Marsh Creek went on in the 3rd quarter to score another touch down, and our Indians held them back from running in the extra point. The Indians were trying as hard as they could to convert, but they turned over the ball on downs without scoring.

Then in the 4th quarter came an amazing fumble By Marsh Creek recovered for a turnover by our Indians. You can see the 2 Indians (dark blue) on the ball here.

And here you can see which Indian came up with that fumble recovery......

Our own #39!!!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

And so it begins....

... School is back in session. 3.5 hours of paperwork for ME to do is proof! And so are these photos.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Here comes Fall

This time of year always gets to me. I really don't like to see the summer come to an end. It's not that I don't enjoy the autumn season. It's just that with the start of school and all the homework and paperwork, and running to and fro' for activities - I feel like time with the kids is limited.

But we'll just make the best of what the season offers. So to get in the mood, I started crafting some seasonal cards. Hope you enjoy them.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Are you ready for some Football?

The season has started! Actually the try-outs and practices have been going on since July. This past Saturday was the "Bowl Day" with a pre-season game. Regular season games start this weekend.

Patrick is playing on the Division 1 105lb Pop-Warner team. It's a lot of commitment in time and energy from him to make practice every night, eat right, get rest and stay hydrated. After some initial grumbles as the practices pushed on through the heat and humidity, he is now feeling a bit more fit and ready.

Not to slight the burden that his brother's also carry to support their brother's desire to play. It's not an easy time for them (or any of us). We at least get to enjoy the excitement of the games!

And this pre-season game was no exception. Scoreless with only 15 seconds to go.... and the Indians (our team) pushed their quarter back through for a touch down! The extra point was *solidly* blocked by one poor players chest, so the final score was 6-0. Woo hoo!

Patrick is sporting #39 this year. After Pittsburgh's HB Willie Parker. Yup, that's Patrick in the center of the photo below, making a tackle!

Friday, August 15, 2008

They're Here!

The 'maters have started to ripen. Yeah! Yummy!

Saturday, August 9, 2008


No, I didn't spell it wrong. It's not supposed to be "matters". I'm talking about 'maters. You know.... tomatoes. Now say it with me "may-durs" You've got it!

Every year we grow a garden at home. Garden regulars include 'maters and peppers. Sometimes we grow other vegetables too. Green beans, eggplant, zucchini to name a few. Last year we ended up with pumpkins. Quite by accident. In the fall we always put our used jack-o-lanterns into the garden to compost. Well when Spring came along... so did a pumpkin vine! It took over the yard. And did produce some very nice pumpkins. However a bit too early for Halloween, these pumpkins were ready for harvest in August last year!

Now wait, this was about 'maters. I really like homegrown tomatoes. I wait all year to have them fresh from the garden. We plant right after the late frost date in May and typically have big ripe red tomatoes by mid-July.

Here we are nearly mid-August and no tomatoes yet! OK, so we were a smidgen late planting - maybe a week. The lack of humid nights in the early part of the growing season are what I think delayed these tomatoes. I was able to pick some cherry tomatoes last night.

It's the big ones that I'm anxious for. I love 'em sliced on a bagel with cream cheese! A little bit of Heaven here on Earth! And I tend to eat much healthier when I can pick some veggies right from the garden.

There are a few that are just starting to turn red. Maybe this week! So you see, 'maters do matter!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


Why, when I have some time AND access, I'm not able to write? Throughout the day I had many thoughts and feelings that I wanted to share. Now that I'm here, keyboard under my fingers, the thoughts are noe with me!

It was a typical day. Started with the usual scurrying about to get everyone ready and off to where they need to be. Then it took a diversion. Through an "autism meltdown". That was a term that a friend called it. For me it is a great explanation. I completely understand what it means. I was glad that I headed it off before it got too bad. Only took about 30 minutes to restore things to the normal course of mayhem!

As I went about the day running kids to camp, at work, doing household chores during my lunch break, preparing dinner, getting some laundry done, organizing and preparing for the next day... phrases were on my mind, bits and pieces. And now they have scattered into the depths of my mind.

But then, I guess it is just another day. I'll be back again.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Heads will roll!

It's always an adventure trying to get a group photo. We took several. Most actually had just about everyone looking good. That's easy since we are such a good-looking bunch! :) And when you are having as much fun as we did, the laughter and smiles come easily.

Still one photo would have someone blinking, one of the kids looking off some where, the baby crying.... you name it. And, we didn't have a tripod or way to get everyone in the photo. So first Barb took some pics of the rest of us, then Kevin took some with Barb in them. I really wanted a photo with all of us in it.
A little playing about with photoshop.......

I started with this one

Changed a few faces and added a person... and voila!
it became this one... the winner!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Spice of Life

Into every life comes a little spice. Ours is named Pepper. A lab-pitbull mix puppy that we rescued in February.

She is a bundle of energy and "pep" - so her name is quite fitting!

She is also really strong for a little girl. Too strong for me! She's still in her chewing phase too. In fact that is a smoke detector in the picture that she is chewing on. She has also chewed through that dog bed in the picture, her blanket, her harness, and she chewed a hole in the couch!

She does love being with people, playing catch and digging holes in the back yard! She is all puppy!

She started obedience classes. Hoping she calms down. I hear I need to be patient, and diligently watch her, for the first 1.5 to 2 years. I'll let you know how it goes!

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