Friday, June 22, 2007

School's out for Summer!

Summer vacation has officially begun! The photos above are Alexa practicing her over the shoulder, backwards basketball shots, taken last night. Today was Alexa's last "day" of school. Her last day was a "half day" of school - all one and half hours worth. She was in at 9:00 and home at 10:30! Now the fun begins!

I thought I'd post the results of the challenge that Sharon gave me last week. It was a red, white and blue paper and embellishment challenge using Doddlebug papers. My biggest stumbling block was trying to create a layout without a photo. I managed to cajole, weedle, beg and finally insist Alexa stand next to our neighbor's flag banner with the only red shirt she owns so at least I'd have something to play off of. Here's the result:

The paper is cut on a curve on the left side and there is a generous use of seed beads to give it a little punch. This summer I'll tackle trying to scan 12x12" layouts, something I've yet to do. Well, it's off to get ready for work, have a great weekened everyone!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Oh, Brother!

I was a very happy child. It was me, my parents, my "city" grandmother and my "country" grandparents. Then the unthinkable happened. My brother was born. Why me? What did I do to deserve this, him?! I was a good child. I listened and obeyed my parents. What did I do wrong?

My brother had my number from day one. He was a happy little boy who could get under my skin and push my buttons with no apparent effort at all! Brion was born in early June. I have no recollection of my mom being pregnant. No recollection of Brion's birth and his coming home for the first time. What I remember the most about that summer is that Mrs. Engelmann from across the street would come over early in the morning, get me out of bed, dressed and take me over to her house. I could play in my backyard with Janet, Terry and Dolores, but I was forbidden from going into the house until after lunch time.

Lunch time was no fun either. I was a child of simple tastes. PB&J worked just fine for me add a glass of milk and I was good to go. Unfortunately, the Engelmann's didn't have any peanut butter, no one in their house ate peanut butter. I was offered (and turned my nose up at) cream cheese - blech! I was miserable! And you know whose fault it was -- that little baby intruder in MY house - Brion!
Fast forward a couple of years. As a pre-teen and teen I had to "watch" my brother after school while my mom worked. By then Brion had finely honed his button pushing skills and had a different button for any and all occasions. The good news is that I got to move upstairs and had the whole second floor to myself along with my own bathroom, very cool!

I went away to college and Brion got, well, tolerable. The saying is "absence makes the heart grow fonder" well, for me "absence makes the brother bearable". He started to become human and not such a bad kid after all.

Over the intervening years we've both gotten married, we live a good distance apart and are very, very different people. He's conservative, I'm liberal. He still lives on Long Island and is very acclimated to the fast pace, living close to the city, loves the water and can talk easily to anyone, anywhere, anytime and throws great parties. I've lived mostly out of the state or in upstate NY - country, cows and corn. I like the mountains, I'm not crazy about the heat, the sun or the ocean. Give me a nice clean, chlorinated pool and air conditioning. I'm a fumble mouth around strangers, talking to people doesn't come easily to me and I'm uncomfortable at parties.

So, you may think that with all that we don't have in common we have a so-so relationship. Well, I've got to tell you, next to my husband, my brother is the most important man in my life. He is a wonderful husband, married to an equally wonderful woman, he was a rock after our parent's car accident and took control and handled a thousand and one details including, but not limited to, the subsequent selling of my parent's house.

He is a fabulous father, he is adored by my daughter, his niece, and I can't begin to tell you how proud of him I am. He still can push my buttons, but I also know he will always have my back (and climb up on a ladder in January to fix my roof if I ask him to). I love him more than I can tell you (and him) and I wish him a very happy, belated birthday - because he still manages to forgive me when I send his card late, and don't talk about him in my blog.
Happy Birthday Obie!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to all those Dad's out there. When we were deciding whether to have children or not there was one thing I was sure about, my husband would make a great dad. I was right. That is one of the three things my dad and my husband had in common. First, they were and are great dads. Second, they both loved me unconditionally. Third, they loved their girls! Three pretty great qualifications if you ask me.

My dad was never a part-time dad or a dad that did things only a "man" would do. He shared diapering and bathing duty. He never "babysat" his kids, something I hear even young women today say, for example, "I can come if my husband will agree to babysit the kids, otherwise I have to see if my mom can do it." I'm always astounded when I read things like that. Since when did having children, caring for them, nurturing them, spending time with them be something a wife had to ask her husband, the FATHER of their kids to do.

After large family gatherings my dad would volunteer to take all the nieces and nephews to the local park to give the ladies time to clean up and relax. My dad would bandage and take care of some of my more serious "OOPS" moments when I would mangle my fingers or knees and my mom would be too upset or grossed out to do it! My dad took me to the hardware store, the paint store, the lumber yard and the gravel yard, places I still like to go today. He let me help him put furniture together when he went through his "Yield House" phase. My dad was devoted to his mother, who was widowed when my dad was 12 or 13. He took care of her throughout her entire life and visited her regularly even when she didn't know who he was anymore.

My husband is a hands-on, 24/7 parent. He loves to spend time with our daughter and has been a natural since day one. He makes time, invents time, and looks forward to time and activities he can do with Alexa. In many ways he is better with her than I am. I have never, never worried about leaving her with Norman and he has never questioned his abilities or responsibility toward his child.

That old adage that a woman looks to marry a man like her father isn't exactly true for me. Like I said, the only thing my dad and Norm had in common for years was me. Dad didn't understand for a long time what exactly Norman did for a living. He had a hard time understanding the academic life. He also didn't understand how Norm didn't know one end of a wrench from the other and why I did most of the house and home repairs. But I guess when you go deep down to the most important things a woman would want in husband and a father, my dad and Norman were very, very, much alike. In that way, I did marry a man just like my father.

Happy Father's Day - Dad and Norman, I'll love you both always and forever, Donna

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Quizzes and Challenges

I was "challenged" by Sharon, my store owner, to make a July 4th layout. She provided me with the paper and embellishments and now I have to come up with a layout - ACCCKKKK!!!! I do OK with a deadline, but not so OK with a blind challenge. That and I don't have a photo to work with. It's Flag Day today and I'm hoping I can get Alexa to pose in her white skirt and red top (that we HAD to get for school today) next to our neighbor's flag banner. I'd feel a bit better attempting a layout if I have a photo to work with.

I found this quiz challenge on Marty's blog and I'm a bit dismayed to find out my color is yellow. I don't feel like a yellow and my favorite color is red, with blue running a close second. What color are you?


You are very perceptive and smart. You are clear and to the point and have a great sense of humor. You are always learning and searching for understanding.

Find out your color at!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Summer Vacation

Remember when summer vacation from school seemed forever to get here and you had all these cool plans for things to do that never quite worked out the way you thought? I know I'm dating myself, but when I was a kid you left the house after breakfast and didn't return until lunch and then you were out again all afternoon until you could hear your mom calling you for dinner. Then came the negotiations for how long you could stay out after dinner.

There were no gymnastic camps or bead camps or Michael's camp or cheer leading camp. We had three above ground pools on our block in three contiguous backyards and we'd take turns "sharing" with our little brothers. The only "camp" we had was during elementary school when there was still enough money in the school budget to go have summer school (that was fun, not because we failed) where we would have twirling lessons, make lanyards out of plastic string (boondoggle) and clay pots in art. When we were a little older we had a town pool but the fee was expensive and we had to cross the railroad tracks and Sunrise Hwy. to get there and there wasn't any shade and they had way too many rules of things you couldn't do.

Our summer would go like this...One week we were inspired to play "Bonanza" or "Spin and Marty" or "Swamp Fox". We'd fight over who got to be which character and we'd use fence posts for horses, turn over the picnic table to make a house or a boat and exhaust our imaginations until we found the next best thing.

The town would black top the street and we'd break out our roller skates! Who's got a key? That would keep us busy for another week. Then we'd not want to waste all that beautiful smooth black top and someone would produce a piece of chalk or we'd break off a piece of slate from the flower beds and hopscotch would take up another week. Double dutch, or just plain jump rope and Duncan tops would appear. But eventually, we'd drag into the house and whine to mom "There's nothing to do!" My mom's enlightened reply, "Go outside and play!" It never changed!

I'm planning my daughter's summer vacation, yes, planning...There will be a week of gymnastics camp, the one with the trip to Fantasy Island amusement park (a must!), I'm also going to sign her up for a week of "Passion for Fashion" at the school's summer program. I hesitate to sign her up for Michael's Art Camp because I haven't seen the projects and if they don't meet Miss Priss's high standards - I'll never hear the end of it. The rest of the summer it's just her, me and her grandmother, especially the two afternoons I work (what will she do!) I can't say I'm looking forward to summer the way I used to but it will be interesting, I've got to say that and nothing like when I was ten.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Back in the saddle again...

It's been a busy two weeks! In no particular order of importance...

My friend Tracy posted on her blog a week or so ago the challenge of "helping" your child do their school projects without actually doing the project yourself. We had the same dilemma in our house last week. Alexa, along with every other fourth grader at Maple West had to do a project with an oral report on something having to do with New York State. The parameters were pretty wide and the rubric was fairly easy to follow. Alexa chose the Empire State Building(ESB) as her subject. When asked what she wanted to do for the project part she chose to make a model of the ESB. Out of what? - Styrofoam. So off to JoAnne's, Michael's and ACMoore we went to find the one store with all the pieces that fit. As we started to build the model in the store aisles to see what pieces we would need, the ESB grew, not only in height but in $ spent!

We brought everything home and started "construction" with city approved, structurally compatible supplies - otherwise known as a glue gun, Styrofoam spray glue and toothpicks. We finally got the basic structure built - and the 'we' gets a little sketchy here because Alexa is afraid to use the glue gun, over sprayed the adhesive, and spilled the toothpicks. So, Mom (with no patience) built the ESB to Alexa's demanding specifications and vision!

Once totally built, we needed to add windows and spray paint the exterior. To make the windows we (again, Mom with an assist from Dad) used the wooden rectangle end of a small rubber stamp and forced it into the Styrofoam to the tune of over 1600 windows - if my math is right. To be honest, my hand was so sore and I had a HUGE blister on my right thumb that is now a huge callus - that I didn't count the windows at the time, I'm guesstimating. In Alexa's defense on this point, she did not have the strength to press in all those windows (Norman and I barely did!) Finally, we spray painted the entire building 'Silver Champagne' - with 7 cans of spray paint! Then the night before the project was due, I drilled holes in the wooden base (that Alexa painted) and glued dowels in the holes and Norman and I lifted the ESB and attached it to the base. I put on the sticker letters (because Alexa was afraid she wouldn't get them all on and even) and here is the result...

As a post script, Alexa gave her oral report on Tuesday (dressed to the nines) and it went very well. The ESB was a big hit - in more ways than one! It drew a lot of 'oohs' and 'aaahhs' and a few, "Wow, how did you make that!" from a number of students and teachers. We are very anxious to see how 'we' did come grade time!

Also happening last week was Creating Keepsakes Convention (which I did not attend for the 2nd year in a row). My store, Buffalo Stamps and Stuff had a booth and I spent some time doing demos for display.

Lastly, I didn't attend the show because the Sweatshoppe Girls - you know who you are ;-), had a summer weekend crop retreat at the Watson Homestead down toward Corning. We had a blast - as always, and are planning to do it again. Here's a photo of Suzanne, Amy, Lynn and Penny working away.

That's about it for last week. This week, we saw cousin Karen from California. We have the 'shed guy' coming tomorrow to layout where our new backyard shed will be going and the 'fence guy' should be calling any day now for when they are coming. Can someone tell me how I did all this stuff when I worked full time?

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

My Bad!

I know, I haven't posted in over a week. This is going to be shorty until I can get my act together at home. I've been a little busy and still have a lot to do and tell you all about. So here's a preview until I can get it together...
1. Empire State Building - re-creation
2. Sweatshoppe Crop - way too much fun!
3. Busy at store - no wonder I have to go to crops!
4. Company coming - Hi! Karen
5. Home improvement - sheds, fencing and roof, OH MY!
6. Graduations, showers, weddings, vacations...
Until I can download some pixs and update. see you soon!