Sunday, October 26, 2008

Trunk or Treat

Annamarie, Sandy and I went to our church's Trunk-or-Treat celebration tonight. My little surgeon looked so great in her authentic garb which was donated by various medical residents who hang out at the dog park with us.

Instead of saying "trick or treat" this year, the kids had to say a Bible verse they had memorized. We worked and worked on Annamarie's verse, Psalm 23:1. She walked up to the first car and said, "The Lord is my shepherd that I do not want." After I stopped laughing hysterically we practiced just a bit more and moved on.

Friday, October 24, 2008

New blog again

I have updated posts on my new blog, if you missed the address below. Come on over to and read about my seasickness.

In scrappy news, tomorrow morning Sandy and I are heading out to Fredricksburg to take two classes with Donna Downey. I am really excited about the projects we'll be creating, and I won a drawing for dinner with Donna and the store staff, so that should be fun. I'm also excited about hanging out with former Booya Girl Cindy Liebel, who is taking the same classes.

Hopefully I'll be back late tomorrow with some fabulous mini-albums to show you!

A Three Hour Tour, a Three Hour Tour

I promised earlier this week to share the details of our trip board the Yankee Freedom II, or as I referred to it then, "The Catamaran of Death." The Yankee Freedom II is a high-speed catamaran ferry to the islands of Dry Tortugas, about 70 nautical miles off the coast of Key West. The largest island in the Dry Tortugas is home to Fort Jefferson, one of the most remote national parks in the system. The abandoned fort, built before the Civil War, is an amazing structure built from over 16 million bricks brought in by boat from New England. The pentagon shaped fort covers nearly the entire island, leaving room for just a couple of tiny beaches for snorkeling and boat docks.

The trip to Fort Jefferson is an all day affair, and when we got to the dock at 7 AM the weather was rainy and windy. We had discovered that Key West is one of those places where if you don't like the weather, just wait 10 minutes, so we hoped that it would clear off and warm up during the two-hour voyage to Dry Tortugas. The captain warned us that it might be a bit choppy on the trip, especially once we got out into open water. He was not kidding. Ron and I both felt a little queasy on the trip and were glad to get to the Fort and off the boat. Several people had actually been seasick and the crew was selling Dramamine, which we bought for the return trip. They cautioned us to be sure and take the Dramamine about an hour and a half before our scheduled departure time so that it would have time to get in our systems. Consider that foreshadowing.

When we reached the island, a salty old crew member named Tortuga Jack led us on a tour of the Fort, after which we had lunch on the boat. Ron remembered to take his Dramamine at that time and I foolishly did not. After lunch we went down to the small beach to do some snorkeling around the coral reefs. My only previous experience with snorkeling was when we were in Hawaii last January, and I'm disappointed to discover that I am a bit of a panicky snorkeler. I have become fairly claustrophobic in my middle age and something about wearing the mask and only being able to breathe through my mouth bothers me. I can get over it if I can find something interesting to look at under the water, but we discovered that most of the fish were around the pylons of an abandoned dock, and I was afraid that the heavy current was going to smash me against the pylons. Basically I am a wimp and besides, seaweed kept attacking me. I am a disappointment to my wannabe adventuring self.

One of the pieces of information that Tortuga Jack shared with us on the way out concerned the sand on the beach. Apparently there is a species of fish that feeds on the algae in the coral but doesn't have the appropriate mouth shape to suck them out. So they bite off pieces of the coral, chew it up, and poop out the chewed up coral. I couldn't stop thinking of the coarse white sand on the beach as fish poop, especially when I dumped approximately 2 cups of it from my bathing suit back at the hotel.

The weather had cleared up while we were on the island, but threatening dark clouds appeared just before our departure time. We were warned very strenuously that the water would be very choppy for at least the first half of our two and a half hour return trip. I wasn't too concerned, having not experienced motion sickness since childhood, and besides the trip out hadn't been that bad.(More foreshadowing.) By the time we were about 15 minutes out, people started needing the sea sickness bags, that crew members were handing out. I lasted for about half an hour. I posted a review of our trip aboard the Yankee Freedom II on Trip Advisor, and I gave it four stars largely because of the helpfulness of the crew. Early on in my life, I made it a policy to avoid any career path that involved a high probability of people throwing up on my shift, but this crew could not have been more accommodating and sympathetic. They walked around providing fresh barf bags, paper towels and ginger ale, and offering ice packs to the foolish people who did not heed their warnings to stay in their seats. One gentleman was thrown into a table and at least bruised and maybe broke some ribs, and another man got a nasty bump on his head. If I had not felt so miserable I certainly would've been singing the theme to Gilligan's Island. It may have been the longest 2 1/2 hours of my life.

Another reason for my four star rating is that Fort Jefferson is definitely worth a visit, and the island is very beautiful. I understand that in time, the pain of childbirth fades, allowing for the births of more children, and I would probably return to Dry Tortugas in 10 or 20 years when the memory of the horror of that trip fades. I might take the seaplane next time.

Monday, October 20, 2008


I have been seriously procrastinating with my Key West post, and I haven't been able to figure out why. I have been bothered recently by my blog's lack of identity. Do I want it to be a family update blog, a parenting blog, a scrapbook blog? My original intention, and thus the web address of "scrapquest," was to document my attempts to become a published scrapbooker (been there, done that) and to share layouts. Immediately, though, my messy life got mixed in with the scrapping, and although this blog presents a pretty accurate snapshot of my life--some parenting crises, some travel, some scrapping, and a lot of other random stuff--it feels untidy to me. I realize that the scrapbookers who visit might not care to read about the mundane details of my life, and most of my family members, who drop by to see photos of the kids, couldn't give a rat's hind end about scrapbook-related stuff.

So. Henceforth this blog is dedicated solely to scrapbooking and crafty topics. I will continue to post layouts and mini-albums here and I hope you'll stick around. I have created another blog HERE to write about our parenting struggles, post travel photos, and ramble on at will. I have wanted to write some more serious posts here from time to time, but posting a scrapbook page afterward makes for awkward segues.

Of course you're welcome at both blogs. I love you all for reading and I especially love you for commenting.

And now that awkward segue thing: I used one of Karen Russell's awesome new easel albums to showcase some of my favorite photos from Key West. The album has 16 pages, but this is all I'm posting for now because I may do something shocking and actually submit this one to a call. I'll post the rest when it's rejected. :)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Key West recap part 1

Our trip to Key West was wonderful and relaxing and I wish I was still there. I could envision myself selling everything and moving to Key West to live on my boat and sell my art to the tourists, except for the fact that I own neither a boat nor any artistic talent. Oh, that and Ron has something against the heat and 200% humidity.

Like many of the places we have visited, the Florida Keys are far too photogenic. When faced with such beautiful scenery I just cannot stop snapping my shutter, and then I am faced with the task of sorting through over 500 photos from a weekend trip. I had thought I would post a few of my favorites here, but you will just have to go over to my Flickr and look, because they are all my favorites.

Ron and I had no trouble adapting to living on "Key West time"--the first thing we did after checking into the hotel was take a nap. We stayed at the beautiful Island City House, and walking through the old carriage entrance was like stepping into another world.

We had a porch and a hammock and a cat who visited us as we ate breakfast outside each morning. As promised, we did eat too much, including chocolate-dipped key lime pie on a stick and spinach fettucine alfredo with fresh jumbo lump crab. Many of our meals were taken at various restaurants on the harbor, so close to the water that we could have tossed our tortilla chips to the fish, but then what would we have used to scoop up our salsa?

Key West is famous for its sunsets, and we were advised to view them from aboard one of the many boats offering evening cruises. On Saturday morning I called and booked a sunset sail aboard the Floridays for that evening. The boat's brochure promised small groups and more importantly, wine.

There is nowhere in this world that I am happier or more content or more mindful of God's majesty than on the water, and that sunset was every bit as spectacular as promised.

I posted this photo on the other blog already, but the boat pictured below is the schooner Western Union, which also offers sunset sails. We had passed by the Western Union at the dock earlier and wished we hadn't already booked our voyage, because it is one beautiful boat. In the end, we enjoyed our sunset cruise on the Floridays so much that we sailed on the Western Union the next evening. That night's sunset was mostly obscured by clouds, but oh my soul I can't describe the perfection of that sail. The wind was just right and the wooden masts were creaking and the sails were snapping, and it made me think about becoming a pirate.

Imagine Ron with an eyepatch and a hook in place of his hand and a bottle of rum instead of Diet Coke...can't you see him as a pirate captain?

I am so happy remembering that evening that I am going to forgo recounting the next day's voyage on the Catamaran of Death for now. Maybe tomorrow. Bring barf bags.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Obligatory 100 things

I first posted on my original blog a year ago yesterday. I passed 100 posts there a while back, and I thought about doing the honorary "100 random facts about me" post at that time, but I never got around to it. I thought it might be interesting to begin this blog with that list. It is total stream of consciousness, in no order whatsoever, and might frighten some potential readers away. (If you missed my reasons for starting a second blog, you can read about that here.) I realize it's a little plain-looking around here, but I just moved in and haven't gotten around to decorating yet. I'm working on it.

1. I frequently Google friends I’ve lost touch with.
2. I am amazed at how many of my former friends can’t be found on the internet.
3. I lived in the same zip code until I went to college, and then I moved eleven times in five years.
4. I was incredibly boy crazy from a very early age.
5. I read once that your earliest memory of romantic interaction sets the tone for all future romantic interactions.
6. At six, I kissed the boy across the street when he came over to play with my brother.
7. He ran away and wouldn’t come back to our house for a long time.
8. Number five proved to be pretty much right on target.
9. I was a huge fan of Charlie's Angels when I was about ten years old.
10. I got in trouble for running around the neighborhood wearing my mom’s black half slip as a strapless dress while playing Charlie’s Angels.
11. I was Sabrina, the smart one.
12. I wrote a letter to our local TV station protesting the cancellation of Charlie’s Angels.
13. I received a reply telling me I should write the network.
14. I still have the letter in a scrapbook.
15. That scrapbook also contains the proof photo of Charles Perry that I stole from his desk when I was in sixth grade.
16. I was so crazy about him that I kept detailed notes about the clothes he wore every day for a month.
17. I clearly remember a number of those items of clothing.
18. But I don’t remember our teacher’s name.
19. Also in sixth grade, my friends and I wrote and acted out many theatrical productions based on our hatred of a popular mean girl in our class.
20. In seventh grade she got toxic shock syndrome and nearly died, and I felt guilty about those plays.
21. That same year Chris Poindexter caught me slipping one of many secret admirer notes into his locker.
22. I lied and said I was doing it for a friend.
23. In high school, I was one of the brainy kids.
24. Who also loved to party.
25. I’ve never done drugs.
26. But I drank right much beer in my misspent youth.
27. When I was sixteen my mother caught me buying beer at the convenience store across from where she met her carpool.
28. Clearly, I was not aware of where her carpool met.
29. My first job, at sixteen, was at a record store.
30. I worked there for four years.
31. It is still the coolest job I ever had.
32. One day when I was driving to work with the windows down, I hit a swarm of bees.
33. I was stung on the face multiple times.
34. The worst part was all the dead bees in the back of my car.
35. My second job was at a Marriott Hotel.
36. I worked there for six years.
37. I worked my way from Room Service to Front Desk Clerk to Supervisor to Management Trainee.
38. My career stalled and I found out my boss’ boss thought I didn’t fit the Marriott image because of my disability.
39. I should have sued.
40. I am not a litigious person.
41. I spent two years in Orlando working at another hotel.
42. I had to fire a girl because her shoes smelled so awful.
43. I came close to marrying someone I met in Orlando.
44. He cheated on me with my roommate.
45. I was much angrier with her than with him.
46. I frequently thank God for unanswered prayers.
47. I left college two classes short of my degree.
48. I went back and finished shortly after Ron and I got married.
49. My classmates made me wonder if I was that clueless when I was nineteen.
50. My classes were much easier without the partying I did the first time around.
51. I thoroughly enjoyed the partying, though.
52. I once went on the road with David Lee Roth (Van Halen) and his band.
53. It was just for one day.
54. They had seen a window display my friend George and I did at the store and asked us to decorate the “meet and greet” room at the next city where they were playing.
55. The hotel bar wouldn’t let me in because I was nineteen.
56. Until guitarist Steve Vai said, “She’s with us.”
57. I used to be cool.
58. I am so not cool anymore.
59. I’m mostly OK with that.
60. Ron and I met online back in 1992.
61. It was before the internet.
62. I wasn’t looking to meet anyone.
63. He was.
64. We didn’t exchange photos before we met.
65. He is seventeen years older than I am.
66. I didn’t find that out until we had decided to meet in person.
67. I had never been attracted to older men, so I thought about backing out of the meeting.
68. But I was already in love with him.
69. For our first date, we met at a restaurant halfway between our houses, a two-and-a-half hour drive for both of us.
70. For our second date, we spent a week in Guadeloupe.
71. We got married less than ten months later.
72. We’re still married, 15 years later.
73. In many ways we are total opposites.
74. But we complement each other well.
75. I am a serious night owl, and I come by it honestly.
76. I can call my parents or my brothers after midnight and know they’ll be up.
77. I had a happy childhood.
78. I was a bit of a drama queen.
79. Payback is hell: Both of my children are very dramatic.
80. My father can fix anything, and I thought all dads were that way.
81. My children’s dad is not that way.
82. I am proud to be a southern woman.
83. I recently learned that I’ve always spelled “y’all” incorrectly.
84. I do eat grits.
85. I need to lose 30 pounds.
86. Thinking about dieting sends me into a panicky eating frenzy.
87. I have had Cat Scratch Fever.
88. I have ridden in a hot air balloon. (Thanks, MB.)
89. I had multiple cats all my life.
90. Until I married Ron, who is allergic.
91. I have thanked him many times for saving me from a “crazy cat lady” life.
92. I love my dog.
93. I miss having a cat.
94. I am not the kind of mother I thought I’d be.
95. My children love me anyway.
96. My children are not the kind of children I thought I’d have.
97. I love them desperately.
98. Nothing about my life is the way I imagined it would be.
99. It is better than I ever imagined in so many ways.
100. I am so very blessed.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The End

...of a really nice trip. More tomorrow.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Fifteen Years, etc.

Today is our 15th wedding anniversary, and we will celebrate it tomorrow by heading out for four days in Key West. My mom and dad are coming up to stay with the kids, a gift for which we are very grateful. When we planned this trip we were a little nervous that it would never actually happen, because right after we made our reservations, the hurricanes started hitting one after another. Oh, we would've gone somewhere, even if we spent the weekend sitting in the Miami airport drinking Starbucks and watching drug busts, because the child free weekends are just too rare. I think the last time Ron and I went out to dinner together without the children was November of 2007. I'm hoping to get lots of good photos, enjoy a number of tropical drinks, and indulge in a lot of key lime pie.

Several people have asked us how Thomas is doing as a boarding student. It is very strange to say that I have only spoken to my son twice in two weeks, but he seems to be doing fine. For the first few days after we dropped him off I was feeling a bit guilty for not missing him more. Then I woke up on Thursday with a serious longing to hug him and I kept thinking what if he just needs a hug from his mom? I guess it just took a few days for absence to make my heart grow fonder. He seems to be doing well... he says that he's getting along well with his roommate, and his behavior has been good enough that he has been able to go on the "OC" (outstanding citizen) off-campus trip both weeks that he's been there. Annamarie and I went to his soccer games on Monday and Tuesday. Monday we took Ruby with us at Thomas' request, and there was great joy at their reunion. I think Ruby was glad to know that we had not done away with him or sent him to the pound... she really misses him. (Don't you like how he wears his socks pulled up over his knees? Looks like he's wearing green tights.)

Thomas was obviously glad to see me and Annamarie. On Tuesday when the game was over, I hugged him and told him that he needed to go get on the bus with his teammates. He hugged me back hard and said, "I don't want to go." Although my heart was squeezing, I laughed and said, "Sure you do." Then he remembered that the team was going to McDonald's on the way back to school and he ran off happily to get on the bus. It seems clear that he is a little homesick, but also clear that he is doing well, and maybe doing a little growing up. I love this photo that I took of him on the soccer field, but all of a sudden he looks like a preteen instead of a little boy. He is coming home this weekend to see Grammy and Papa.

I also got a couple of good photos of Annamarie while we were at the soccer field. She was really hamming it up.

And the most amazing thing is that I actually scrapped some of those photos last night. (I changed A's shirt from orange to pink in PhotoShop because I wanted to use this Basic Grey Euphoria paper.)

I hope y'all have a great weekend, and there might even be blogging from the road --- who knows?

Sunday, October 5, 2008

This is my life

If you made this guy a woman and changed "Twilight Zone" marathon to "CSI and/or Law & Order" which are always on somewhere, this would be me. This is why I never get my stuff done.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Halloween home decor

I created this set of Shaker boxes for an article at Busy Bee and I have been dying to post them here. I used products from the new My Minds Eye and Imaginisce lines. There are so many cute new Halloween lines out this year, and I will never have enough photos to use them all, so I may be making a few more home decor projects. These boxes were so much fun to make and came out even better than I had hoped. I saw a set similar to this at our local Ben Franklin for $20 and I was able to make these for about $10. In the comments in the Busy Bee gallery, several people hinted that they wouldn't mind having some of these, so maybe I ought to make a few sets for sale on etsy. I can't wait to incorporate them into my Halloween decorating. My "Halloween decorating" is mostly confined to a Hoosier cabinet in my kitchen. I change the contents of his cabinet seasonally, and every time I do it gives me the chance to mentally thank my friend Sandy, who gave me the cabinet several years back. This picture is from last year and it reminds me that I need to get Ron to get down the box of Halloween decorations from the attic.

Oh, and I have such a cute new print from my favorite living artist, Diane Duda. When I get my cabinet decorated (and I did not just put away my July 4th was Americana, at least since August 1) you can see it framed, but look how darling this is: She has more, and you can have one too.

Make sure to drop by Busy Bee and check out the other fabulous Halloween projects created by the Booya Girls. Kimber made the cutest set of cards, Summer created a darling gift bag and invitation set, Lacintha made a darling layout, and Chrys (a woman after my own addictions) made a super cool acrylic album using many of the new Pageframes products.

Of course that's not the end of the article goodness at Busy Bee! There are three more wonderful articles posted here: In honor of the season I'm going to channel The Count from Sesame Street. One article... two articles... three marvelous articles in October...bwahahaha. Actually, there will be a total of five posted by the end of the weekend. Don't miss them! I know I have never said this before, but those Booya Girls are some kind of talented and I am honored to work with them.

Looking for something to do?

We're hosting an online crop over at Busy Bee this weekend. There will be some small prizes and RAKs and some great challenges from the Booya Girls. Come hang out with us!