Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Another Scrap Etc Show & Tell

This layout was done at "SNL," or Saturday Night Layouts. The idea was that we would create about 8 different layouts sponsored by different companies, but the execution wasn't so smooth and we only actually got two completed.. Heidi Swapp went first, and we created this page (I added the photos after I got home):

Monday, April 28, 2008

Happy Birthday, Miss Ruby

Princess Wagalot is one today. She was four months old when she joined our family, and we are blessed to have her. Happy birthday, girl! Who's a good puppy? Who's a good girl?

Scrap Etc stuff

I've been wanting to post some of my completed projects from Scrap Etc. In Jenni Bowlin's class we made four cards using her Bingo cards. Not sure what I'll do with these yet...maybe they'll go on a page or maybe in a shadow box. A mini-album? Who knows. They sure were fun to make.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Charlottesville, can you waste any more of my time?

Our smallish college town is fond of hosting festivals and events that are really too large for the infrastructure to handle, and we're also inclined to schedule them all on the same day. Last night Ron and I high-fived each other because we only had one small item on the Saturday schedule--getting Annamarie to horseback riding. It's a beautiful 32-mile drive through Virginia countryside out to the farm where she rides, and we pass through picturesque Crozet, Virginia. Crozet doesn't have any stoplights, but there is a four-way stop in the heart of town. Today our country radio station was doing a live remote from the BP station there, featuring $2.99 gas (the going price around here currently averages about $3.50). Traffic on the two-lane road was backed up for several miles. We waited for 29 minutes to get through the intersection, by which time we had missed half of horseback riding, and we were still 15 minutes away.

Brilliant navigator that I am, I decided to head back to town by another route, which led me directly into Foxfield Races traffic. This legendary event draws approximately 23000 attendees, many of them university students and nearly all of them falling down drunk. Foxfield is no Kentucky Derby, but the undergraduates treat it as if it is, sporting their finest sundresses and floppy hats (for the girls), and oxford cloth and seersucker (for the boys). A dismaying number of them will be arrested for public intoxication. (I SO would have been there 20 years ago.) So there I was in standstill traffic AGAIN, and it had turned into a 5-mile-long lawn party, with everyone piling out of their cars, mojitos and mint juleps in hand. But I had no drinks, there was a ten-year-old in the back seat, and I had to pee.

I eventually got turned around and headed for the interstate, hoping to bypass the traffic and get Annamarie to her favorite bagel place for a consolation lunch. A block from the restaurant we were detoured by street closings due to the Dogwood Festival Parade. I started to laugh at the ridiculousness of the situation: We had been gone from home for 2 hours and had gone exactly nowhere. I stopped laughing immediately because I was risking wetting myself.

We did finally get a potty break and lunch, and I may never leave the house again.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Catching Up

Well, I was doing great with the daily posting until I left for Scrap Etc. The event was fabulous, despite a few glitches with meals and the closing session. I enjoyed all of the classes and really felt like we got our money's worth. I know that my suitcase weighed 20 pounds more on the trip home than it did when I left home. I'm embarrassed to admit that Michele and I are not the party animals we though we were. We did hit the bar twice, but we were nowhere near dancing on the tables or even wetting our pants in the parking lot (you know who you are ;)).

I took Ron's point & shoot camera to Nashville, hence the crappy picture quality, but I seriously didn't need another thing to lug around the unbelievably enormous Gaylord Opryland Hotel. What a cool place, though. It's much more like a small town than a hotel. There are a few photos of the hotel on my Flickr.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

It's Dogwood Festival time!

It's hard to avoid taking the kids to the overpriced, slightly cheesy carnival when we drive past it every day of the two weeks it's in town. So we bundled up this evening and joined the hordes of people risking their lives on the rides.

I think Thomas and Annamarie's favorite part of the carnival is running into people they know. We made it back to the parking lot just as the fireworks were starting, and made it home just half an hour past their bedtime.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Ruby & Karma

Since we adopted Ruby, we have probably averaged 5 trips per week to our local dog park. As long as Ruby gets some exercise most days, she is a good, calm dog. For someone who was always a cat person until marrying a man with allergies, watching the interactions between the dogs is fascinating. They have such strong personalities and preferences about who they play with. Ruby is willing to play with some dogs for a few minutes, but she has definite favorites. She and Karma are clearly BFFs, despite the flashing jaws and bared teeth. Karma is actually jet black, but after Ruby has gummed all over her and they have rolled in the dirt, Karma is covered with slobbery mud. It all looks pretty gross to me, with the gumming and biting and rolling in the dirt, but oh my gosh it must be fun. If you make the mistake of picking up Ruby's leash to move it at home, you will set off a round of bouncing and barking and then you will feel terrible about dashing a poor puppy's widdle hopes to the ground.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Just keep swimming

"What the heck is that?" you are asking. It's my pile of homework for Scrap Etc, which my little countdown clock says is 84 hours away. Woo hoo! Naturally I did the easy homework first. I have just two more classes to collect photos for, but one requires 40-60 pictures! I currently have 24 of those, so my camera will be working hard tomorrow.

For the other class I need 10 photos of people who had a great influence on my life, and it's really been a challenge. We are supposed to include positive and negative influences...I can certainly think of some on both sides but I don't have photos for all of them. I'm sure I can find something to represent them, though. Wonder if I can find a photo of a lying, stealing, back-stabbing shrew and a commitment-phobic, cheating weasel on the internet.

Oh, and several of the classes required a self-portrait, so I set up my tripod and had a little photo shoot with myself. After several dozen tries I realized that the problem with all the photos is that they look like me.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Perfect Just the Way I Create

Before I discovered scrapbooking, I tried a number of other crafty hobbies and none of them stuck. I dabbled in cross stitch, watercolors, acrylics, sewing, clay, and I'm sure there were more. My dropping these hobbies boiled down to two reasons: I have terrible manual dexterity and I can't draw. I have studied books about perspective and drawing, yet I can't produce anything beyond a passable stick figure. Scrapbooking satisfies my desire to create something beautiful, and it can apparently be done without any true artistic talent. Still, I have always wished that I could draw or paint.

During a lovely vacation Ron and I took before we adopted the kids, I took a watercolor class. The instructor told us that one of the best things about watercolor is that you can use vague shapes to represent the object you're painting, and it doesn't have to be precise to be beautiful. We were making notecards, and I painted an iris on mine. Or rather, the vague shape of an iris, my favorite flower. The instructor came around and said to me, "Nice pansy." I replied, "It's an iris." And she replied, "No, it's not." Not much encouragement there to continue.

Recently I have discovered some new (to me) artists like Kal Barteski and Claudine Hellmuth and Diane Duda and others, including Donna Downey, whose slogan is the title of my post. They have inspired me to try again to create something just for the heck of it, just to be creating. Just like with scrapbooking, the products are a big part of it for me, and it's a huge bonus to be actually breaking them out of their boxes and using them.

So a while back I played around and made this:

And it didn't come out exactly as I'd imagined but it was fun and freeing and I didn't throw it away. And so I made this one, which was a little less outside my box, and I really like it.

And a few weeks back I started an actual little collage painting, but I got frustrated when it wasn't looking like I wanted (I got totally stuck on the eyes). I made myself sit down and finish it today, and while I won't be giving up my day job any time soon, I kind of like it. It's a gift for a friend, and it's really really scary for me to give it to her. What if she laughs at it? But I'm going to do it, because I know this friend will treasure it (or at least graciously act as if she does) because I made it for her.

(And no, that's not the secret project, and no, MB, it's not your birthday present. :D Those are still to come.)

A letter to dh

Dear Ron,

I know you didn't mean to spill coffee in my fancy ergonomic multimedia keyboard, but this $12 replacement really makes me appreciate all those shortcut keys I had grown so attached to. When I want to change the volume while I'm watching TV on my computer, my hands hover uselessly, searching in vain for the volume keys.

I appreciate your attempting to fix it by flushing it with distilled water and alcohol--the internet is just a font of useful suggestions. And it almost worked! If only I didn't need working u, i, and o keys. When you plugged my keyboard back in after letting it dry for 2 days, a chorus of angels sang. All seemed well until you suggested that we watch last night's Survivor online since the DVR failed to record it last night. Or should I say, "srvvr," because that's what I got when I typed in the web address.

So it was back to the cheap spare keyboard, and I guess I should be grateful. But I'll be making a run to Staples tomorrow. And as Annamarie loves to say, you are prohibido from my desk.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

I am not the world's worst mother

So we ended up going to Dairy Queen after the museum. While we were enjoying our ice cream, a woman came in with a little boy about 18 months old. Annamarie was enchanted with the many braids in the woman's hair and so was watching her when they sat down. I snapped this photo, coincidentally, as the woman started saying to the little boy, "You suck. You suck." Apparently he didn't want to eat the ice cream. Annamarie turned to me and said, "That's not very nice to say that. Do you think she hurt her little boy's feelings?"

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Field trip

Annamarie is still on spring break, so we decided to take a little road trip to a cool children's museum in Lynchburg. Of course there are 70,000 kids on a field trip here as well, but the chaos doesn't seem to bother Annamarie and I have my iPod cranked up to drown them out. I am trying to convince A to leave early enough to get to the AC Moore nearby. Come on, kid, let's ditch this educational nonsense and go buy something. Lynchburg is loaded with antique stores and cute caf├ęs...one of these days I'm going to make a kidless field trip down here.

I need to stop blogging and turn my mind now to a weighty dilemma: Do we stop at Sonic or Dairy Queen on the way home?

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Girly Sleepover

Annamarie and I spent the night at Sandy's new house, which is like sleeping in a storybook. The house is all pink and white and pretty and flowery, and Sandy is a wonderful hostess. She even served us tea and chocolate-frosted Krispy Kremes. Annamarie only spent a few minutes scrapping, and a lot of time sorting Sandy's jewelry. Please note the fabulous press-on manicure. I got about half of a secret (for now) project done and stayed up way too late. We've been invited back for next year, so we must have behaved fairly well.

A Good Monday...

...for all the girls in the family. Annamarie is on Spring Break this week, so we dropped Thomas off at school and Ruby at doggy day care, picked up our friend Sandy, and drove to Richmond (about 60 miles) to visit our favorite scrapbook store, Memories Galore. Annamarie made her first independent LSS purchases and managed to spend $23 of her own money. Not surprisingly, she favors anything blingy or glittery. Hello, my name is Cyndi and I am a bad influence. I did encourage her to limit the $2 a sheet Heidi Grace papers. We're having a sleepover at Sandy's new house tomorrow night and we're all going to scrap together.

Afterward we lunched at Chili's, and then dropped by a cute cute store called Tweed, a gifty sort of boutique with lots of fun girly things. We sped back home in time to drop off Sandy and pick Thomas up at school, and discovered that his soccer game had been postponed. I was guiltily gleeful about that, because it made the afternoon much less busy.

I was just sure that Ron was going to ask Annamarie, "What did you and Mommy do today?" And I was just as sure that he wouldn't be thrilled with her predictable answer, "We went to the scrapbook store and the purse store and Chili's and Mommy bought a purse and a bracelet for her and a necklace for me and a WHOLE BUNCH of scrapping stuff." So I thought about telling her to say, "Oh, not much." But then she would turn right back to me and say, "See, Mommy, I didn't tell Dad that we went to the scrapbook store and the purse store and Chili's..." See my dilemma? We managed to keep him busy and distracted so he forgot to ask.

OH, I mentioned a while back that Diane Duda was creating a painting for Sandy's birthday, and she has finished it. It is so cute, and I can't wait to see it in person! I think she must have located a photo of me and Sandy here on my blog because I think these adorable bunny girls are us!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Scary Story

I just finished reading David Sheff's Beautiful Boy. The book follows Sheff through his teenage son's battle with meth addiction. I am certain that this book will help many people to get the help they or their loved ones desperately need. But as the mother of two children on the brink of adolescence, I am left feeling a bit hopeless and helpless by the thought that so much can go so horribly wrong even in loving families. It's a scary world out there...how do we even begin to keep our children safe?

Sunday, April 6, 2008


I spent a good part of the evening working on "homework" assignments for Scrap Etc., which is only 12 days away! I am looking forward to getting away, to the great classes, and to spending time with my friend Michele. There will be drinks involved. To be perfectly honest, I am nervous because I am such a slow scrapper that I fall behind in classes, and well, I'm afraid of strangers. So the thought of being with over 600 of them makes me want to hide under my bed. I am WAY socially awkward and I spend most of the time I'm in a group situation wondering if everyone notices how weird I am. (Because it's all about me, you know.) Aieee. There will be drinks involved. Note to self: Cut it out. It's going to be a blast!

In other news, we were forced to buy a new microwave today. Our 15-year-old one has a large crack in the door and we've been wondering whether we'll begin growing third eyeballs from the radiation that must surely be leaking out. We dragged the little surgery patient to Sears and she felt well enough to look at jewelry and have some macaroni at Red Robin, her first solid food since Wednesday. She is back to her cheerful self for the most part and seems to be healing well.

We dropped Thomas off at lunchtime for a sleepover with his two best friends, whom he refers to very coolly by their last names. For some reason that cracks me up. When Annamarie asked what they were going to do, Thomas replied, "Play video games and torture Jack's little sisters." I'd bet that's a pretty accurate account of events. Tomorrow I will be cursing myself for letting him go, when we get the backlash of a kid who has a hard time with transitions and dealing with the end of the fun. Not to mention a predictable lack of sleep. Oh well, you only live once.

Friday, April 4, 2008


Dear friends,

Thanks for the calls and visits and prayers and good thoughts the past couple of days. We really appreciate them.

Annamarie is physically feeling pretty good (her hip is sore and the stitches in her mouth are annoying) but she has been weepy off and on all day. I think it's probably related to the general anesthesia, because it's really unlike her. I expect she'll feel a lot more like herself tomorrow. She's probably also exhausted, as I am, because we didn't sleep well in the hospital. The staff at UVA Medical Center couldn't have been any nicer, though.

We're glad to be home and grateful for our friends and family. If you're interested in seeing a few photos of her hospital stay, they're here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cmichener/sets/72157604391200737/detail/


Thursday, April 3, 2008


photo.jpg, originally uploaded by C_Michener.

Dear Annamarie,
I don't think I can adequately describe how proud I was of you today. When they wheeled you off to surgery, you had still never stopped smiling and chatting. You charmed the pants off doctors and nurses and other patients, and you made this whole experience a piece of cake for me. You are as strong and brave as anyone I've ever met. I want to be you when I grow up.


Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Being a Tourist Today

In the 15 years I have lived three miles from Thomas Jefferson's Monticello, I have never managed to take my mom there. When she tells people that her daughter lives in Charlottesville, they invariably say, "Oh, you must visit Monticello often." Apparently she was embarrassed to have to say she'd never been. Mom came up yesterday to hang out with us during Annamarie's surgery, and she and I finally visited Monticello this morning while the kids were at school. It was a beautiful day up on the little mountain and I thoroughly enjoyed being a tourist in my own town. I only get up there every few years myself, and I forget how beautiful it is. The flowers were just beginning to bloom--I may go back up there in a month or so to take photos of the tulips.

We have to be at the hospital at 9:30 tomorrow, and Annamarie is remarkably calm. I'm sure she will be nervous in the morning, and I just wish I could go through the surgery in her place. Thomas has been acting out, jealous of the attention Annamarie has been getting, and that hasn't made things any easier. We'll all just be glad this time tomorrow when it's all over. If you can spare us a prayer tomorrow, we'd certainly appreciate it.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

A letter in honor of NaBloPoMo

Dear LuLu*,
It is not all about you. Insisting repeatedly that it is all about you does not make it so. Your behavior would be understandable, if not excusable, in someone one quarter your age. You'd be known as a Mean Girl, and we could hope you'd mature and improve with age. Someone twice your age behaving as you do would be a Hateful Old Woman, and we could just cluck and limit our visits to your nursing home. Any woman between those ages who acts like you do is just a bitch.
Just a few points I'd like to discuss with you:
  1. It is not classy to pitch a fit when people don't make enough of a fuss over your new shoes/handbag/accessories.
  2. It pisses people off when you refuse to spend $9 to see a movie and then purchase yet another $400 purse.
  3. It pisses them off even more when you act snotty because they went to the movie without you.
  4. Every outing does not have to include you.
  5. Your acquaintances do not enjoy being told every time you see them, "You should wear lip gloss. It covers a multitude of sins."
  6. Ditto for, "Where are your accessories?"
  7. When you criticize the weight/clothing/shoes/makeup/hair of every stranger who passes by, it just makes YOU look bad.
  8. The husbands/teenage sons of your friends are not required to be at your beck and call.
  9. Stop complaining to mutual friends that I never call you. The phone works both ways.
  10. If I had wanted to talk to you, I would have called.
  11. If you call a friend to go shopping with you and she tells you she is intestinally indisposed and doesn't feel like going, it may be considered selfish to reply, "There's a bathroom at the mall."
  12. Stop asking if my husband has any colleagues who are single. I would not unleash your high-maintenance self on anyone I considered worthy of dating.
  13. Your spoiled teenage daughter is going to turn out just. like. you.
  14. She lied to you about returning my call about babysitting. She never did.
  15. If your "friends" always desert you, at some point you should probably think, "Maybe it's me."
  16. It's you.


*Name changed to protect me from crazy lady wrath