Friday, January 31, 2014

Home Improvement

This scrapbook page is about a really fun, silly experience, when we were insulating our attic in our house.  It was actually very comical some of the time, in between the tedious hard-work part of it!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


I was ecstatic to have my baby back home, in my arms.  I couldn't stop cuddling him, kissing him, examining him, snuggling him, rocking him...bliss!  Being separated was seriously heartbreaking.  And I couldn't get enough of him now that he was back home.  I tell you what, it has really made me appreciate motherhood so much more, having had so many hardships to overcome with my health since William was born.  And in a way I am thankful for that intensity.  Every day I am overcome with joyful gratitude that I get to be the mommy of this incredible little  human being.  Thank you GOD!!!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Hanging with the Mamas

This scrapbook page is of the first playdate William and I went on together after my radiation.  It was so fun to get to be his mama again, after not being able to for 2 weeks.  We were just so happy to be there, together, with the other babies and mamas.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Grandpa and Grandma Scrapbook Page

This is a scrapbook page of the days just following my radiation treatment a year ago.  William couldn't even be in our house for 2 weeks because I was so radioactive, so he had to go and stay with my parents.  They took such amazing care of him, and the 3 of them grew really close.  They are still so bonded, more so than ever a year later, and I really feel it is because of the 2 weeks he spent there.  I can only imagine how he was feeling to be separated from me for such a long time.  It was VERY hard on me, and I hope I never have to repeat the experience.  It was actually really heartbreaking, to tell the truth.  Anyway, we were soooooooooooo thankful for everything my parents did for little William during that time and that is what this scrapbook page is all about.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Snow White: A Painting

This was my first painted girl portrait in a new series that I am working on of heroines from fairy tales, history, mythology, etc.  Snow White in the Forest.  8x10 mixed media painting on canvas. After I painted this I was so excited by how it turned out that I decided to finally take the plunge and start my art business!  It's a slow start, but that's ok.  I have a society 6 shop now, where I sell prints and printed items featuring my art, and I have an Etsy shop where I sell the original paintings and also where customers can buy a commissioned painting.  Finally all my dreams are coming true!!!

Monday, January 20, 2014

DIY Projects

I had a run of DIY ideas this past fall, especially in William's bedroom.  I LOVE to buy something dirt cheap and then remake it using my own craft supplies.  So here's some of the projects around the house.
 Decoupaged letters for William's room.
Circles on a dark wall and a painted mantle.  Just to brighten up the living room a little bit.

Ikea clock dyed with Alcohol ink.

Original Ikea Clock.
Wood letters painted over crackle paint.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Roses: A Painting

This summer in France my lovely sister-in-law, Ninon, and I went to a little tiny art gallery in Cogolin, France, where we saw a painting that we both fell in love with.  We joked that we both wished we could own the painting and hang it over the head of our beds.  When I got home I decided to try and make my own version of the painting, using mixed media techniques.  So here's the original:
And here's my mixed media version, using acrylic paint, scrapbook paper, collage papers, and tissue tape:
And here is a picture of it hanging over the head of my bed, just like Ninon and I dreamed about!!!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Madrigal: A painting

This summer while I was in France I had a really limited amount of art supplies with me, mainly just colored pencils and a very small set of watercolor paints.  So I did a lot of sketching, but I did do this one painting, using watercolors.  I don't use watercolors very often, so it was challenging!  I thought it mostly turned out pretty good, although I think I could have done far better if I had been at home with my full arsenal of supplies at my disposal.  The subject of the painting is Madrigal, as I imagine her, a character from the excellent novel, "Daughter of Smoke and Bone", by Laini Taylor.  On a side note, I highly recommend the book, it is one of the most addictive books I have read in the past few years.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Authentic Heart Revealed-Surprised Last Friday by Gut-Wrenching, Pent-up Grief.

Last Friday I was browsing through my facebook news feed and I clicked on the following link that somebody had posted:

Almost immediately upon playing the video clip, the tears started pouring out.  And they didn't stop.  The video was about 14 minutes long, and I sobbed the whole way through.  As it ended I was still sobbing.  I went and found my husband and he wrapped his arms around me and held me as I sobbed for a good 20 minutes more.  Finally I calmed down and we looked at each other and I just said, "Wow.  I had no idea that was in there."  He gently smiled at me and said, "I bet it was good for you to get that out."

The reason why the story of this woman pierced me so deeply is that I have had to face my own possible death and then possibly leaving behind my own 18 month old son 2 times now since he was born.  I was diagnosed with Thyroid Cancer when William was about 7 weeks old, in September of 2012, and I had radiation when he was 5 1/2 months old, last January.  Then in October of 2013, during my first follow up routine ultrasound, the radiologist found 4 lymph nodes that looked "abnormal".

I had to wait about 2 weeks for a biopsy, and during that time I was in a very dark place emotionally as I faced the possibility that the cancer had returned and was now in my lymph nodes.  I will tell you what that felt like.  Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING disappeared and was completely nonexistent to me except for my son.  There is no deeper grief than thinking you will die and leave your child behind, alone in the world without you to love, nurture, guide, teach, protect, comfort, and just be there for him.  (Except perhaps losing your child, and I hope I never have to face that situation)

I begged everyone I knew to pray their butts off for me to be completely healed of all the cancer.  And I felt a peace as I underwent the biopsy, even though having 4 long needles stuck deeply into your neck and jiggled around to collect tissue samples is a pretty horrible experience (I always have issues with anesthesia working properly for me).  The results of the biopsies were negative.  I was overwhelmed with gratefulness.  I had really thought my goose was cooked.  And now I was going to live after all.  And have more time with my beloved sweet William.

So this woman's story had turned out to be the worst case scenario, the realization of all my deepest fears.  She had to leave her 2 year old baby.  He would never know her.  He would very quickly forget her.  All the kisses, the cuddles, the first tooth, the first steps, all those moments she had treasured up in her heart.  They were foundational for that little boy, BUT HE WOULDN'T REMEMBER HER.  And that could have been William and I.  And that is just so sad.  I am actually crying again as I type this.

I know that sometimes I process emotions kind of abnormally (based on suppressing negative emotions as I grew up in an abusive family).  I think what happened was this-when I found out the biopsies were negative, I was literally high on giddy happiness for a good week. I think those other emotions just kind of got pushed aside.  Apparently they were still in there though.  And waiting to come out.  I feel better now since "The Big Cry", more at peace inside, so I am thankful for the experience, completely unexpected as it was.

Of course this cloud has a silver lining, and I am the type of person to always focus on the silver linings in life ( a definite side effect of my lifelong Christian faith based on some very helpful advice given in the Bible), but for some reason I feel like it was really important that I acknowledge the cloud in this instance.

However, since I must always end on a sunny note, (just my natural personality) here are the silver linings:
-I am unbelievably thankful for and overwhelmingly appreciative of my little boy in an intensely poignant way that I think may be unusual in our world.  In short, I am madly, head-over-heels in love with him!  Having had the very real possibility of having motherhood taken away from me TWICE in his first 18 months of life has made me very aware of how fragile and PRECIOUS life is, and how we need to RELISH it WHOLEHEARTEDLY because we've just got the one shot folks!
-I feel God is very sternly telling me to take better care of myself, since this is clearly a SECOND CHANCE.  This means eat the damn fruits and vegetables Christina!  Oh yeah, and walk 30-60 minutes a day. And maybe try to fit in some yoga once a week. That's it. Otherwise I'm doing pretty good.  I guess those could be my new year's resolutions.


Saturday, January 11, 2014

My Secrets to Speedy Scrapbooking

Recently I had a major run of scrapbooking where I completed a huge number of scrapbook pages in a really short period of time.  I teach scrapbooking classes at my local Michael's store, and I teach my students all my tips and tricks for getting scrapbooking done really quickly and well.  It occurred to me that it might be nice to share them on my blog.  So here goes!!!

-First of all, don't overthink it.  Nearly always, the page is going to turn out really cute in the end.  Just trust the process.  There are an infinite number of ways that the page could turn out, and they are not more or less cute, just different.  I have seen this time and time again.  They always turn out cute!  Just different ways of cute!  I really speed scrapbook using this attitude.  I have to get through my scrapbooking so I have more time to paint!!!

-I think of a scrapbook page as having 4 major parts-photos (always labeled with the date), title, space for journaling, and embellishments.  So as I scrapbook I do a quick mental checklist to make sure I'm not forgetting any of these major parts.

-The first step for me is to choose the photos, crop the photos, and then decide how much space the photos will take up on the page.  Then I look at the photos for the mood, subject, colors, season, etc. to give me ideas about what kind of paper and embellishments I want to use for that page.

-I choose the paper and embellishments that I want to use.  I have my paper sorted into different styles and manufacturers, as well as seasonal, i.e. Christmas.  I also have a monthly kit membership with Gossamer Blue, so I keep all the kit parts together and come back to it for different types of pages, i.e. this kit is good for family pages, this kit is good for summer/beach pages, this kit is good for fall pages, this kit is a good all-purpose kit, etc.  I also rotate in between kits because sometimes I can get bored and in a rut and switching to a different kit can re-invigorate my inspiration.  And if you keep all the kit pieces together, than you know everything already coordinates.  Which helps a ton with the whole speed thing.

-I start layering smaller pieces of paper on top of the main 12x12 piece of paper, which is like my canvas, and I mainly cover it up, since I try and cram as many photos as I can into almost all of my pages.  Sometimes I use the 6x6 pads of paper to do this, sometimes I just cut or tear from other 12x12 papers.

-When all the under papers are in place, I add the photos, usually in chronological order unless one is a funny shape and then I put it wherever I can get it to fit.  I either write the date directly onto the photo with a white or black photo slick writer pen, or else I make sure to write the date on label stickers before I adhere the photos.  This helps with speed also.  I also make sure to leave space for the title and the journaling space.

-I add a journaling space, either some ledger paper or a mini bag or a tag, the possibilities are endless.

-I add a title.

-I add flat embellishments, i.e. die-cuts or stickers.

-The last thing I do is add chunky embellishments, since I love buttons, fabric, brads, wooden items, metal items, ribbon, etc.

So that is my process.  I really follow that order of events for every scrapbook page and it enables me to go super fast once I get warmed up!  Also my studio is extremely organized, which helps me to go fast, with little containers for each type of embellishment, i.e. ribbons, buttons, brads, die-cuts, stickers, journaling papers, etc.

I have also decided to scrapbook LESS photos from now on, as I feel that I can slow down a little since William is getting older.  I want to try to follow a Project Life idea, i.e. try to average one scrapbook page per week to kind of sum up what happened over the course of the week.  I intend to just keep scrapbooking traditional pages though, not pocket pages. And then if there is a special event, like Christmas or a birthday, then to have a special scrapbook page just for that.

What about you?  Do you have any tips or tricks to help you get your scrapbooking done so you can get to all the other fun, crafty things that you want to do?

Hope you enjoyed all my secrets to speedy scrapbooking!!!

Friday, January 10, 2014

My (missing) Moments

These are just a sampling of the 2 1/2 weeks worth of moments I missed with my baby because of the radiation I had to undergo to get rid of my Thyroid Cancer.  I really hope I never have to go through that again.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Scenes from my radiation

These are pictures from my radiation, from January 8ish, 2013, through January 24ish, 2013.  I just hid in the basement scrapbooking, painting, playing piano, watching movies, and reading.  Aurelien hung out upstairs.  William was at my parents, so that I didn't hurt him with the radiation as it secreted it's way out of my body.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Biggest and Littlest Cousins

William and I had lunch with my niece, Rachelle at the Cadillac CafĂ© in Portland.  It was so fun, and very cute to see the biggest cousin holding the littlest cousin.  What a huge age span, like 24 years!!!!!  LOL!!!!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

First Tooth

This was such a bittersweet day.  I was so happy when we discovered that William had gotten his first tooth in.  But it was also the last day before I had my radiation, and so I was trying so hard to pour all my love into my interactions with William so that we could both survive 2 weeks without each was soooooooooooooooooooo HARD.  Ugh.  I hope I never have to go through that again.

Monday, January 6, 2014

My Angel Baby in the Bath!!!

He loves he bath so much!  He splashes like crazy and kicks and chatters away.  It is such a delight to watch!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Tante et Oncle

William's Auntie Ninon and Uncle David, from France!  I love the bottom photograph, it is such a beautiful one of William's face, when he was one month old.  He looks like a little, tiny in love!!!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

New Years Day 2013

Just enjoying more quiet moments at home before the stress and drama of my radiation a week later.  I was just really trying to relish William as much as I could, so that he could store up all that love to get him through the 2 1/2 weeks when I wouldn't be able to touch him at all.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Thursday, January 2, 2014