31 May 2007

Please Join Me in Karli's Friendraiser

This is Karli.

She's a soon-to-be 7th grader who was diagnosed two years ago with

juvenile diabetes. If you could meet Karli, you would find her to be a gregarious, smart young lady, probably a lot like a your own daughter, niece, or neighbor.

Since her diagnosis, diabetes has affected every aspect of Karli's life, as well as that of her family. Yet Karli and her family have turned this very difficult situation into a major force for good. Almost overnight, they became champions of the cause, speaking out for other kids who suffer from diabetes. Karli has become a polished and professional young woman, speaking confidently on television, on the radio, and in front of lawmakers about the difficulties of living with her condition and the urgency to find a cure.
If you've been reading my blog, you'll recognize Karli as the reason we held our first annual Crop for the Cure back in April.

In just a couple of weeks, Karli and her family will travel to Washington, DC so that Karli can participate in the 2007 JDRF Children's Congress. To be selected for this opportunity is an incredible honor for this very talented young woman. To support Karli in her efforts to influence lawmakers, I would like to invite each of you to participate in her "Friendraiser". If you sign up to be a friend, you will receive a monthly JDRF newsletter via e-mail and occasionally an "action alert." Last year, there were four such alerts. If you receive one, you'll just click a link and a fax will be automatically sent to Washington. That's all there is to it.

Below is a letter from Karli which includes the link to become her friend. I hope you will join me in helping Karli and other kids like her. Karli would love to have a friend from every state and other countries, too. Thank you!

As you may know, I was chosen out of more than 1,100 other applicants to be a delegate to the 2007 JDRF Children's Congress in Washington D.C. this summer. During my three days at Children's Congress in June, I will be working with other kids, just like me, to raise awareness about diabetes and ask Congress to help us find a cure. I can't wait to ask Members of Congress to "Promise to Remember Me" when they make decisions that could help us find a cure for diabetes.

As someone w
ith a personal connection to me, my family and the disease I battle everyday, will you show your support for my advocacy efforts by joining me as an advocate for JDRF?

JDRF advocates are so important to helping find a cure for diabetes. Advocates help speak up for those of us fighting for a cure by calling, faxing, emailing, writing or meeting with Members of Congress. My family and I would be so appreciative if you join our advocacy team.

Click here to support me by becoming an advocate

I sincerely appreciate your help and support.

Karli Borcherding

30 May 2007

And now for something completely different

We listen to a lot of different kinds of music at our house: jazz, big band, classical, drum corps, new age, rock...you name it.

But until last week, I had never listened to belly dancing music.

I became exposed to belly dancing music (excuse the bad pun) while volunteering at our local elementary school library. Last time I worked, it was cultural day. When I arrived in the library, three belly dancers were setting up for their presentation. I took note of their costumes, especially the lovely tinkling sound of the gold coins stitched to their skirts. Busy with shelving and year-end book inventory, I paid little additional attention to them until the students arrived for their cultural presentation.

But when the music started, I became almost mesmerized by it. From behind the shelves, I was captivated by the exotic sounds of the sitar, the jangling gold coins, and the percussive, repetitive melodies. After several hours of listening (while still dutifully shelving books), I was totally and completely hooked.

That same evening, we downloaded an assortment of belly dancing music from several countries, and now I'm listening to it regularly. Even my spouse, who is an avid drummer, likes it. As for the daughter, I think she's fine with it, too.

Just as long as I don't start dancing.

Two Peas Challenge: Organizational Tips

Yesterday's blogging challenge on Two Peas was to share your favorite organization tips. So, in the true spirit of organization, I'm sharing yesterday's tip today.

I actually teach an organization class, and this is one of my favorite subjects. The tip I'll share today has to do with organizing memorabilia: all the non-photo stuff you'd like to include in your scrapbooks (brochures, concert tickets, maps, etc.). I keep my photos filed chronologically in boxes (not pictured here) and I have a LOT of memorabilia (read: I keep everything).The challenge is how to keep all of that stuff organized so that you can find it (and remember that you have it) when it is time to scrapbook a particular set of photos.

The solution that works for me (after trying several different tactics) is this: I file my memorabilia chronologically in large expandable folders, separately from my photos (the file pictured here happens to be from Creative Memories). I have set up tabs for the 12 months of the year, and within each of those tabs I have shorter dividers for years (2003, 2004, 2005). So if we attended a concert in January 2005, I stick the concert program and tickets in that section. When I'm ready to scrapbook a set of photos, I make it a habit to check in my file for that month and year to see if I have any corresponding memorabilia. I pull it out of the file and decide if it is something I'd like to include on my page or in a pocket at the back of that scrapbook. If I choose not to use it on the page, I either discard it (rarely) or (more likely) put it back in the file for posterity. (Why put it back in the file? Because I'm hopelessly sentimental like that.)

I have a separate expandable file for vacation memorabilia. The tabs are labeled by trip and year, and everything I drag home goes in that section until I'm ready to create the vacation album. I should also say that I have a plastic tub for each school year, too. The bulk of my daughter's school papers go in those tubs. The only school-related memorabilia I keep in the expandable files are the items I'd truly like to include in the scrapbooks: typically concert programs, certificates, awards, and newspaper articles.

Periodically I sort through memorabilia and put it in my expandable files. Right now, I have multiple stacks of school memorabilia to file. This must be done before I can scrapbook any of those photos. This is a good activity for when I want to do something related to scrapbooking but don't feel the creative mojo to actually make a page. Because I can't scrapbook with others (that will be the subject of another post!), I have also been known to take my memorabilia to crops to organize and file it. And yes, my friends think I'm a complete nerd for doing this (OK, they already KNOW I'm a nerd), but hey...it gets done.

After trying a variety of methods to tame the memorabilia monster, this is the one that works best for me.

29 May 2007

And now, a musical interlude

My daughter, a freshman, had the opportunity to sing with a chamber choir this spring. This was the first time chamber choir had been offered to 9th graders. Members were selected by audition and rehearsed over the noon hour a few times each week. No one -- including the director -- really knew what to expect from the group, but as rehearsals progressed, DD reported that the group was beginning to sound "really good, Mom".

When we attended the state vocal contest in April, we had the opportunity to hear the choir. While I expected the kids to sound good, I have to say that none of us in the audience were prepared for what we heard. It was hard to believe that this was a group of 9th graders who had never before participated in this type of group. Take a listen to this YouTube video (and try to overlook my poor filming, notably the dad's head in the picture):

Battle of Jericho

This video represents just one of many great, and occasionally unexpected, things that happened during this past school year. As a mom of a teenage daughter, I often feel like I'm hanging on for the ride. But when I hear this, I remember to stop and enjoy the journey.

28 May 2007

It's a Little Thing, Really...

...but it's kind of a big thing to me.

I think most people have some sort of table next to their bed. I'm told that some people even have a lamp on their table so they can to read in bed. For the longest time, we had no side tables next to our bed. The clock and phone were on the floor. Trust me: This is not convenient.

Somewhere between then and now, we acquired two round particle board tables that I covered with tablecloths made for this purpose. I really wanted antique tables to match our bed, but these are (of course) cost prohibitive. So although the particle board tables were too floral and billowy (read: downright ugly), they were functional enough to hold the phone on one side of the bed and my clock radio on the other. And we all know that space for the clock radio is critical since it enables me to listen to NPR at all hours of the night.

Enter Lily, and those round tables began to be not just ugly but quite problematic. The tablecloths provide the perfect secret place to hide, but somehow little feet get caught in the fabric and the tables tumble. Nor do the tables hold up well to high-speed Lily Launches or Lily Landings. And when the tables tip over (often in the middle of the night), everything falls onto the floor. Last time, a tipping table flew into a large nearby plant, tipping that (and the dirt) as well.

At first I was amused by the table antics. "What a silly kitty!" thought I. But after 11 months, I don't want to play this little game anymore. I am tired of righting the tables in the middle of the night, cleaning up spilled dirt, and calming the swearing husband.

On one of my numerous trips to Target this weekend, I found this little side table and determined that this would be a good replacement for the tippy round tables. It's not a perfect match for our antique bed, but it is close enough. And cheap enough that I actually bought two. But most importantly, the table is sturdy enough to hold up to Lily.

It's a little thing, but kind of big for me. I'm going out on a limb here, but I might even get a lamp.

27 May 2007

Good Question

So yesterday I stopped at the local convenience store to pick up a bag of Fritos. As I was walking into the store, the clerk came running out and yelled at a guy driving a silver pickup truck, "Hey, did you have gas?"

I wondered how he responded to that question.

Inside, I waited while several people paid for snack items, pizza, and such.
The clerk complained under her breath that someone had pumped gas but had not paid for it. Yet she did not ask The Question of any of the people in line ahead of me. When it was my turn to buy my 99-cent bag of Fritos, she looked me right in the eye asked, "Ma'am, did you have gas?"

Tell me: Just what was it that made me, and not those other people, look like I might have had gas? Did I look uncomfortably bloated? Doubled over in pain?

I couldn't resist: "No, I'm fine, thank you."

Sunday Morning Coffee

Each morning, I have coffee with Creme Brulee, often from the same white mug. It's always the same cup of coffee, but somehow on Sunday mornings, coffee seems different.

The day stretches out ahead of me. I feel optimistic about all I can accomplish, in that "eyes are bigger than my stomach" sort of way. My expectations are unrealistic, but that's OK. It's Sunday morning.

The newspaper spreads out all over the table and falls on the floor. I may not pick it up until after church. And that's OK on a Sunday morning.

The weekly puzzle is played on NPR. I listen intently to the clues and try to play along, usually without success. But every Sunday, I try again.

The house is quiet. Routines are different. The teenage daughter sleeps a little later. The kitties find a sunny place and squeeze in an early nap. This is Sunday morning, after all.

Nearly every day, I pour coffee into my white ceramic mug. But on Sundays, my mind wanders to the bustle of the Intervale Farm Pancake House in Henniker, New Hampshire. I can smell the waffles and the apple pancakes. I can hear the clatter of dishes. I've never been to the Intervale Farm Pancake House, but on Sunday mornings, I imagine I'm there.

And for a brief, delicious time on Sunday morning, everything is alright with the world.

26 May 2007

Cooking Not Required

My cooking skills are fairly limited. Poor, actually. Even disastrous, on occasion. When I was growing up in the 60's and 70's, I strongly resisted any attempts made by my mother to domesticize me. As a result of this, I have very few domestic skills (that would include anything in the "home-making" department). I've never regretted this and have made no attempts to acquire such skills.

It is quite ironic, then, that I have taught several recipe album classes. I've just finished up a really simple flip-book recipe album class to be offered in September at Memory Bound . For this project, I used Flair Design's "What's Cooking?" line.

I always tell people who come to my recipe classes about my culinary disasters. I find it funny that without exception, these people actually CAN cook and DO cook. They even have recipes that they might put in such a book.

So I leave the recipes to them. I know my limits.

25 May 2007

Feline Friday: The Effects of Peer Pressure

I regularly extract Lily from the dollhouse. I have taken numerous photos of Lily in the dollhouse. I have even blogged twice about Lily in the dollhouse. One expects these things from Lily.

So it was nothing unusual when, a couple of days ago, I heard a suspicious noise coming from the dollhouse. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that it was Tinsel, not Lily, inside -- front half in the kitchen, back half in the dining room. Tinsel, the meek and well-mannered cat who never misbehaves, was caught in the act of naughtiness. Showing off, even.

This proves that even good kitties can make bad choices when influenced by their peers. Now, I'll admit that the one benefit of this particular kind of peer pressure is that it makes for some good photos.

In this case, reform can come later.

24 May 2007

Of Cats and Cardstock

Since that is, in fact, the name of this blog, today's post will cover a bit of each, in that precise order.

1) My friend, Sharon, picked up two catnip mice for Tinsel and Lily on a recent trip -- one pink and one brown. I placed them on the floor in front of the cats and watched as Tinsel selected the brown one and Lily chose the pink one. They each independently chose the mouse that matches them best! Thank you, Sharon. I can imagine that there is nothing better than a fresh catnip mouse. Unless it would be a fresh REAL mouse.

2) I have had cats all of my life and until this month, I have never had a cat "leak"
urine on me. (Ah, yes, it's been a great few weeks around here.) The first time it happened was probably my fault. I took Lily in the car with me without making sure she'd used her litterbox first. She rode on my lap and when we exited the car, there was a spot of kitty pee-pee on my shorts. Last night, it happened again. She climbed up on my lap and stayed for awhile, leaving a small mark --again. In the same spot. On the same shorts. Which had been washed. Today I shall be calling the vet. If this is a sign of her love for me, I'm not buying it.

On a drier note, I have finished a couple of class projects lately. This one is a mini-album using the two-sided jou
rnaling cards from Cosmo Cricket's Halfway Cafe line. There is something about the nostalgia of this line that really appeals to me. Part of it is the name. When I think "Halfway Cafe", I can imagine driving through the southwestern states on Route 66. It's lunch time and we pull into the dusty parking lot of a diner....you know, one of those old places where pieces of rhubarb pie spin in a glass tower and the waitress calls you "hon". Regulars sit at the counter and order BLT's and tuna melts.

I've never been to the Halfway Cafe, wherever it may be. In
fact, the trip itself is one of those "roads not taken" for me. Somehow, this line makes me think about roads I didn't choose...things that might have been different had I picked the other path. *sigh*

(I can hear my friend, Darci, right about now: "Dude! Get a grip!")

Yeah, I know, it's just a mini-album.

Skip the nostalgia and focus on the cardstock. And the feline urinary incontinence. Somehow, this is the road that matters.

21 May 2007

And with a snip, snip...

he became a she.

Surely you remember the forlorn elephant I rescued from the middle of the highway back in the cold, dark days of winter?
He has perched on a shelf in my scrapbooking area since that time, soaking in Febreeze and contemplating his new kinder and gentler life.

Since he had voiced no objections about becoming a female, I decided last week that the time was right to proceed with the operation.
It took only a couple of "snips" with my Cutterbee scissors to remove his old and crusty bow tie. Moments later, the pink striped Doodlebug ribbon was tied in a pretty bow around her neck, and Ellie's transformation was complete.

Ahh...if only everything could be fixed so swiftly with a snip, snip.

Today is the Day

Early this year, I designated "ORDER" as my word of the year, as inspired by Ali Edwards' challenge. I had high hopes of putting order and simplicity into my physical, emotional, and spiritual life. I even made a mini-book with aspirations of documenting my journey.

Yet somewhere between February and now, the circumstances of life caused me to abandon my quest. I lost control of my household (not that I ever really had it) and CHAOS ensued. For a variety of reasons, my emotional and spiritual health have suffered. I have been at a very low point. My old friend, Depression, has been knocking at my door. ORDER has not been the word of the year for me.

But today is the day that I will begin climbing out of this deep hole. The incessant grind of school and extra-curricular activities has finally ended, affording me evening time to accomplish some of my goals as well as expand my "distance" walking program. Our remodeling project is now underway and my class projects through September are nearly finished. I am still struggling emotionally with several issues right now, but I am hoping that as I regain control of my
physical life, my outlook will improve as well. The scourge of depression will not be allowed back in my life.

I know what needs to be done to regain ORDER in my life. Today is the day I start that process.

17 May 2007

Feline Friday: Out on a Limb

Tinsel came to live with us us some five years ago. Just short of one year old, she was a gift to our daughter from Santa. We don't know anything about what Tinsel had experienced at the North Pole or elsewhere prior to her arrival at our house. As a result, she has always seemed a bit mysterious to me. There is a part of her that we will never know, unless she decides to share her history with us.

Consequently, it's always interesting to see how she responds to different kinds of situations and what they might reveal about her past experiences or personality. We have noticed that Tinsel loves to go outside in the yard, which we will allow if she is on her harness and leash. She rolls in the grass and purrs contentedly, as if she's familiar with being outside. This is perplexing to me, since she came to us as a front-declawed kitty. One would think that a declawed kitty would not have spent significant time outdoors.

One day last week, I decided to take her outside without her leash and see how she responded to being placed near one of our pine trees. Immediately, she jumped
onto a low branch and began walking the limbs. Because she has no front claws, she couldn't climb any higher, but she managed to walk on several limbs with ease and confidence, purring loudly (and Tinsel NEVER purrs loudly) all the while. Seeing Tinsel in this setting made her look like an altogether different sort of cat than the usually grouchy feline who sleeps all day inside our house.

So what can we conclude by seeing Tinsel in this setting? I think it speaks to the fact that we all have aspects to our personalities -- skills, talents, and abilities -- that can remain hidden or dormant until presented with the right set of circumstances. We may not even recognize them, or know they exist, until we take a risk and go out on a limb.

16 May 2007

Garden in Early Spring

Over the weekend, I snapped a few photos around the yard as documentation that I have actually been out working in the beds and pots this spring. I plant mainly perennials (many of them purple in color), so not many are in bloom yet, but it's good to see that most everything made it through the winter and survived the brutal spring weather we've experienced this year. I'm not trained in gardening, but I have read a lot about plants and know what I like. I enjoy planning beds and seeing what happens. In the process, I make lots of mistakes but do occasionally have successes. And those successes make me happy.

So as we move into summer and flowers begin to bloom, I'll take more photos to show how things are shaping up this year. As always, my gardens will be a work in progress.

Can You Smell the Lilacs?

Our lilac bush is in full bloom. Last night, I cut a bouquet and put it on the kitchen table. Today, you can smell the lilacs throughout the entire house. I love the scent of lilacs in the spring.
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12 May 2007

In Honor of Mother's Day

This poem is actually about Christmas, but I think it applies to moms all year round. I ran across this a few months ago, and for some reason, I just find it hysterical (probably because I can SO relate to it). Happy Mom's Day!

Funny, Funny Mother

Author Unknown

See Mother. See Mother laugh. Mother is happy.
Mother is happy about Christmas.
Mother has many plans. Mother has many plans for Christmas.
Mother is organized. Mother smiles all the time.
Funny, funny Mother.

See Mother. See Mother smile. Mother is happy.
The shopping is all done. See the children watch TV.
Watch, children, watch.
See the children change their minds.
See them ask Santa for different toys.
Look. Look. Mother is not smiling. Funny, funny Mother.

See Mother. See Mother sew.
Mother will make dresses. Mother will make robes.
Mother will make shirts.
See Mother put the zipper in wrong.
See Mother sew the dress on the wrong side.
See Mother cut the skirt too short.
See Mother put the material away until January.
Look. Look. See Mother take a tranquilizer.
Funny, funny Mother.

See Mother. See Mother buy raisins and nuts.
See Mother buy candied pineapple and powdered sugar.
See Mother buy flour and dates and pecans and brown sugar and bananas
and spices and vanilla.
Look. Look. Mother is mixing everything together.
See the children press out their cookies.
See the flour on their elbows.
See the cookies burn. See the cake fall.
See the children pull taffy. See Mother pull her hair.
See Mother clean the kitchen with the garden hose.
Funny, funny Mother.

See Mother. See Mother wrap presents. See Mother look for the end of the Scotch tape roll.
See Mother bite her fingernails.
See Mother go. See Mother go to the store ten times in one hour.
Go, Mother, go.
See Mother go faster. Run, Mother, run.
See Mother trim the tree. See Mother have a party. See Mother make popcorn.
See Mother wash the walls. See Mother scrub the rug.
See Mother tear up the organized plan.
See Mother forget the gift for Uncle Harold. See Mother get the hives.
Go, Mother, go. See the faraway look in Mother's eyes.
Mother has become disorganized. Mother has become disoriented.
Funny, funny Mother.

It is finally Christmas morning. See the happy family.
See Father smile. Father is happy. Smile, Father, smile.
Father loves fruitcake. Father loves Christmas pudding.
Father loves all his new neckties.
Look. Look. See the happy children. See the children's toys.
Santa was very good to the children. The children will remember this Christmas.

See Mother. Mother is slumped in a chair. Mother is crying uncontrollaby.
Mother does not look well.
Mother has ugly dark circles under her bloodshot eyes.
Everyone helps Mother to her bed.
See Mother sleep quietly under heavy sedation.
See Mother smile.
Funny, funny Mother.

11 May 2007

Feline Friday: Strike a Pose

There's no need for a piece of sculpture
in a home that has a cat.
Wesley Bates

10 May 2007

Two Peas Blogging Challenge: Two Things

Here's an easy challenge from the Two Peas blogging group. This one didn't require too much thinking. I'm looking for non-thinking activities this morning.

Two names I go by: Most people call me Jan and some call me Jani. In work and school situations, I go by my given name, Janet. Interestingly, my husband has never once called me Janet.

Two things I am wearing right now: shorts, sweatshirt (What a surprise, huh? I'd wear the same thing pretty much every day if I could get away with it.)

Two things I want (or have) in a relationship: companionship, humor

Two of my favorite things to do: write, scrapbook

Two things I want very badly at the moment: to get started with our painting and remodeling project, to feel in control again

Two pets I have: Tinsel, our brown tabby, and Lily, our gray tabby

Two things I did last night: went to my daughter’s piano recital, finished up a project for the store

Two things I ate today: morel mushrooms, cereal

Two people I just talked to last: my daughter (in person), my husband (by phone)

Two things I'm doing tomorrow: having our kitchen counter tops measured (to be replaced), going to Memory Bound

Two longest car rides: I traveled all around the US as a kid with my parents, so I’ve had many long car rides. The longest one in recent memory was traveling to Pennsylvania.

Two favorite holidays: Halloween, National Scrapbooking Day? I don’t care for holidays all that much.

Two favorite beverages: Diet Coke, caramel latte

Two favorite scrapbooking tools: my computer, my Canon i9900 wide-format printer

Two favorite scrapbooking companies: Ki Memories, Bazzill

09 May 2007

Scenes from Tulip Time

Each May, we look forward to Tulip Time in Pella, a lovely and historical Dutch town about an hour from here. Each year, the organizers of the celebration worry about the weather. If we get an early spring, the tulips will bloom too soon. If the weather turns cold, they may not bloom in time. This year, we had a series of unfortunate weather events, including an early warm spell followed by late spring snowstorms and topped off by monsoon rains. As a result, the tulips were a bit sad. Many of the lovely beds were filled with nothing but stems.

But Tulip Time is not just about the tulips. There are plenty of other reasons to go, including the interesting architecture, the predictably kitschy parade, and the friendly townspeople. But the best reason to visit Pella is for the unique and extremely tasty pastries. Dutch letters, hankies, almond macaroons, Santa Claus cookies, and poffertjes sprinkled with powdered sugar...these treats make the trip more than worthwhile, any time of year.

In fact, tulips are optional.

04 May 2007

Feline Friday: A Little of Everything

When God made the world, He chose to put animals in it, and decided to give each whatever it wanted. All the animals formed a long line before His throne, and the cat quietly went to the end of the line. To the elephant and the bear He gave strength, to the rabbit and the deer, swiftness; to the owl, the ability to see at night, to the birds and the butterflies, great beauty; to the fox, cunning; to the monkey, intelligence; to the dog, loyalty; to the lion, courage; to the otter, playfulness. And all these were things the animals begged of God. At last he came to the end of the line, and there sat the little cat, waiting patiently. "What will you have?" God asked the cat.

The cat shrugged modestly. "Oh, whatever scraps you have left over. I don't mind."

"But I'm God. I have everything left over."

"Then I'll have a little of everything, please."

And God gave a great shout of laughter at the cleverness of this small animal, and gave the cat everything she asked for, adding grace and elegance and, only for her, a gentle purr that would always attract humans and assure her a warm and comfortable home.

But he took away her false modesty.

- Lenore Fleischer, The Cat's Pajamas

03 May 2007

Thursday Musings

This post, like many of my stories, has no real point. Readers are encouraged to draw their own conclusions.

* Morel mushrooms are a delicacy to be savored. As a kid, I hunted for mushrooms every spring. Nowadays, I am occasionally lucky enough to get a bag from someone who hunts them. This year, for the first time, I actually purchased some at the grocery store. They are ridiculously expensive to buy but worth every penny.

* Lily should not be taken loose in the car unless she has just used her litter box. Have you seen the commercials about female incontinence? Let's just say that a certain four-legged female experienced incontinence on my shorts while driving in my vehicle.

* I have one piece of fruitcake left. This must last me until next Christmas season.

* I found a Starbucks card in a stash of stuff tonight. There was enough left on it to purchase one grande caramel latte with whip and drizzle, with 28 cents to spare.

* The above-mentioned beverage is helping me get through this, my second consecutive day without Diet Coke.

* I'm finally coming out of the fog I've been in for the past couple of weeks.

* This American Life is quite possibly my favorite program on NPR right now.

* It feels good to walk really long distances.

* I'm stronger than I thought I was.

* It takes just a few nights locked in the basement for Lily to dig a hole in the drywall.

* I have recently learned how to spackle holes in drywall.

* One day soon, I'm actually going to do some scrapbooking.