Tiny bite

bite – n.

  1. An excerpt or fragment taken from something larger, such as a film.
  2. scrap bite – an excerpt or fragment of life that i should scrap about today, tomorrow, or someday soon šŸ™‚

Today’s scrap bite:

As I was taking my 5-year-old to school, he told me sadly that his grandma (his favorite playmate, who thankfully lives in the same compound that we do, as he calls her at all possible times of the day to come over and play with him) was going to be out of town for the weekend. He loves playing with her (and I love that he gets to spend as much time as he can with her, because nothing beats having a grandma who can spoil you rotten when your parents won’tĀ  šŸ˜€ )

To comfort him, I said “Oh that’s okay, because this weekend will be my birthday!” (trying to sound as excited as I could… birthdays are supposed to be exciting for kids, right? Now when that stopped being exciting for grown-ups, I can’t recall. )

Responding perfectly to my prompt, his face lit up and said “Yay! Mama! I’m going to get you a bag, or a necklace, or earrings!” I think he kind of had to pull my lower lip up to close my open, gaping mouth. I was astounded. Where did this little boy, all five years of wisdom behind him, get this? Instead, I asked him “Wow! How’d you know that girls like those things?” His answer: “Mom, girls like those things. Boys like toys and video games and experiments. Girls like makeup, necklaces, and shopping!”

This guy really has the ability to crack me up!

(For the record: I don’t wear makeup unless you strap me to the chair and MAKE ME; I like bags but not enough to spend on them, I love shoes enough to spend on them; and I love shopping, especially when it involves books and magazines, scrapbooking stuff, and generally anything that will make my husband and sons happy! šŸ˜€ )

Perhaps they are not stars…

…but rather openings in heaven where the love of our lost ones pours through and shines down upon us to let us know they are happy.

Wonderful how thisĀ Eskimo proverb can be so visually soothing to anyone who has lost someone dear.

Disclaimer: if you’re not intoĀ diving deep or exploring caves, you may decide at this point to do a quick hello-how-are-you-see-you-soon kind of visit and come back another day. šŸ˜€ Not thatĀ you should be very wary … just that the following post isn’t going to be all light and happy in a fluttery fun way. Though I’ll try to keep it that way. šŸ˜€ haha. As if I could resist that!

Surprise, surprise. This fun-loving, laugh-loving girl is in a bit of a melancholy mood today. This morning I woke up to a text message from a dear friend that her husband’s father had just passed away. A couple of days ago, IĀ got a message asking for prayers for the father of my eldest son’s classmate; he had had a stroke and was in the ICU of a hospital. This father is also my husband’s high school classmate. Same age. After Mass last Sunday another former classmateĀ approached us, having heard also about the fate of this poor man, and between jokes and making light of it (as is the culture among my kind of people šŸ™‚ ), I could detect the undercurrent of just a tiny bit of uneasiness…Ā it wasĀ the same kind of uneasinessĀ one would probably feel as they open the obit and realizeĀ they actually know the peopleĀ they’reĀ reading about.

ThenĀ just about a week ago, my U&R girlfriends (at Jessica’s playground) and I had a “game” which involved each of us creating a layout with the theme Beautiful. I had wanted to push the limits of my creativity and come up with something outside the box, but no matter how many angles I viewed it from, when I thought of the word Beautiful, my mom just kept coming back to my mind. (I haven’t seen my mom since January 1977, when her first heart attack took her away from me and my 5 brothers and sisters… but then you probably already know that, if you’ve read the posts before this šŸ™‚ ) And then there’s the fact that in about a week’s time, I’m about to add another year to my age, the same age at which my mom went Home. To her real Home. (It’s a bit funny how all of us, her children, are queasy about turning 39… and each birthday after that makes us feel so glad, as though we’re on borrowed time. Perhaps that’s one of the side-effects of losing a parent early?)

Anyway. Isn’t it amazing how sometimes the events that happen one after the other seem to conspire to stop you in your tracks and tell you: hey, you know what? You’re not going to live forever, you’d better make the most of the time you have, you’d better do all the good you can while you can. You’re mortal.Ā It’s a wake-up call that, though not always so attractive at first, is necessary nevertheless.Ā At least, that’s the way I want to see it. šŸ™‚

I’ve been so lucky and blessed, because even if I lost my mom at such an early age (it’s never the right age, is it, even when you’re 80 and you lose your mom?), in the wonderful way that love allows, she continues to live on in my heart. And it’s funny because each time I’d “talk” with her, it would always give me such strength and comfort (and as I grew older, I was kind of thankful even that I had her in THAT way, that I never had had to go through the rebellious years when mothers and daughters pass through that stage where they may not get along so famously). If there’s only one regret I have, it’s that she wasn’t there to physically embrace my husband on the day I took his name. But she had the singular honor ofĀ getting my bouquet of flowers, which I lay on her grave right after the wedding reception, right beforeĀ my husband and I took off on our honeymoon. (That’s right, no throwing of my bouquet… what can I say, I broke all traditions when I got married… I was quite a rebellious girl! haha!)

But you know what brushing up against Death has taught me? To value what I have, right here, right now. To tell the ones you love that they mean the world to you, right here, right now. When my mom passed away that morning, I insisted on kissing her goodbye (as was the usual practice) before walking to school, which was just around the corner. My other brothers and sisters, perhaps because they were older and more thoughtful, decided not to bother her as they knew she wasn’t feeling very well.Ā Because I was the youngest (and insistent and probablyĀ headstrong in the way that well-meaning children are), I was the last and the only one of her children who got to kiss her warm cheek on that day (a memory I would treasure forever).

I sometimes think that what we learn from the painful events of our lives sticks more with us than the lessons we get from the joyousĀ events (maybe because pain has the power to go deeper and hit where it hurts?) The one thing I carried with me from that day on was to TREASURE everyone and everything, because… well, we never really know, do we? So my husband teases me that I’ve turned our little family into a mini-Waltons family, as it’s very common to hear my boys andĀ me say “I love you” so often everyday. (And that’s not the only Waltons thing, but you get the picture. You will recall that I have a testosterone-filled household, being the only lady there. So I suppose it’s not “normal” for boys to be professing love so easily… but that’s the way it is, and their wives or girlfriends will thank me forĀ the trainingĀ IĀ gave their menĀ one day. LOL! šŸ˜€ )

So anyway. This is probably much much more than anyone needed to know. Sorry. The news of anyone leaving this world always makes me stop and say a little prayer for the one on his way Home, and another in gratitude for all the blessings, for the life that is still within me and around me. It is always a gift. Always. A. Gift.

And just to complete the visualizationĀ roll begun by that Eskimo proverb at the start of this post, here’s my mom, for those who are interested to know a bit about her. (It’s the layout I did for our Beautiful class, and though it seems to stick out like a sore thumb to write the credits for the layout, I have to do that to respect the wonderful work of those whoĀ shared their creations and made it possible for me to create mine. šŸ™‚ )



Amanda Heimann (Unconditional Kit) – BG paper & brown ribbonĀ / Atomic Cupcake (Heavenly Holiday)-Overlay; Chalked / Bob at designing-on-the-edge: stitches (x on buttons) RECOLORED / ameliescrap – buttons / Natali-zigzag stitches, RECOLORED / Rhonna Farrer, 2Peas in a Bucket -Memories wordart; ColorMyWorld frame RECOLORED / Ca-pris – Flower fantasy brushes / Design Fruit – Japanese Foliage brushes

And to really set the mood, here is the song that was playing on the airwaves when she left us. It was one of her favorite songs then. Can’t hear it without getting sent back to those days. Enjoy the walk down memory lane with me.

Of legacies and nostalgia

Of all the words I’ve said and all the pieces of advice I’ve given my sons, I’ve oftenĀ wonderedĀ just which ones my children would remember as grown-ups. I’ve dreamed about creating a layout for each son with this theme in mind… but because it requires drawing deep into my emotional well and really laying my heart open, it’s something that I’veĀ put off for a period when there is more calmness, a more peaceful quiet time which will allow the heart’s sentiments to overflow and spill onto the paperĀ (without danger of being interrupted byĀ the everyday noise that makes thinking hard to do. haha)

My mother passed away when I was 8 (her first and last cardiac arrest), but she left with me, my brothers and sisters a precious lesson that has lasted through the years and which we have passed on to our own children as well. I distinctly remember each time, afterĀ her friendsĀ had praised her children, she would pull us close when we were finally alone and tell us: remember, the more precious and lasting beauty is that which is in your hearts, which can never be taken away by anyone. Beauty on the outside fades, grows old, can be taken away in an instant, but the beauty of your heart will always remain. So grow in beauty of heart, and the rest will follow.

What a wonderful legacy to have and to pass on.

Speaking of advice, have you seen this wonderful, inspiring video of Baz Luhrmann? I loooove it. Watching this could actually give me just the impetus I need to get started on those layouts! šŸ˜€ Here it is; enjoy!

PS. Here are the words:

Ladies and gentlemen of the class of ’99:

Wear sunscreen.

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they’ve faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.

Don’t worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 pm on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing every day that scares you.


Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts. Don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours.


Don’t waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you’re ahead; sometimes you’re behind. The race is long and, in the end, it’s only with yourself.

Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements.


Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t.

Get plenty of calcium.

Be kind to your knees. You’ll miss them when they’re gone.

Maybe you’ll marry; maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll have children; maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll divorce at 40; maybe you’ll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else’s.

Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don’t be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. It’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own.

Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room.

Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them.

Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.

Get to know your parents. You never know when they’ll be gone for good.

Be nice to your siblings. They’re your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on.

Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.

Live in New York City once but leave before it makes you hard. Live in Northern California once but leave before it makes you soft.


Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you’ll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble, and children respected their elders.

Respect your elders.

Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you’ll have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when either one might run out.

Don’t mess too much with your hair or by the time you’re 40 it will look 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts, and recycling it for more than it’s worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen.

U&R stands for U Rock, girlfriends!

I just have to say thank youĀ to two more of my dearest friends from Jessica’s playground, M. & A., for coming to visit. You have made me so happy by dropping by, and I do hope you come around often!

This is for you two, for J., and for my whole U&R family and all my dearest friends who take the time to drop by… Kenny Loggins, singing Whenever I call you friend (Heck,Ā he can call me, period, any time! šŸ˜€Ā I have been in love with this guy for forever and it’s totally okay with my dh, because this marvelous guy doesn’t even know I exist! HAHAHAHAHA!)

PS. Just imagine me in the audience, clapping for you! šŸ˜€

PS. again – Continuation of last post, How I wish… How I wish I could sing like that uber-cool woman!

PS. one last time: We should really be in the audience in Janie’s desert country, listening to Kenny Loggins live. Yummy!!!

How I wish!

This morning, as I got out of bed, I had to stop and think (see me, slight frown on my forehead, eyes looking upward and to the left, faraway look on my face) before I realized it was just a dream.

Tsk! Man, it was so real! I was pretty sure I had finally designed something (hah! That’s when it hit me: of course it’s a dream because if it were real, I’d know what I designed, right? Not a hazy “something”–duh :D) for my girlfriends at our playgroundĀ at Jessica’s. Now that’s really dreaming, because not only have I not designed a thing at all in my life, I don’t even know how to! HAHAHA! How I wish I were half as talented as some of those great generous girls all over the web who just design and give freebie after freebie away, making so many other people happy in their small way.

But dreams do come true, and one day I will have something to “give back”, however small it may be. It’s always nice to be able to give something from the heart.

Ā When I was a little kid, my parents did not allowĀ my brothers and sistersĀ (and me!)Ā to buy presents for them; they made it very clear to us that they preferred homemade cards or little gifts made by our own hands. As we grew up, of course it got more and more difficult to create with our hands, and soon those little crooked creations turned into store-bought items (which by then were appreciated by our dad because we had grown old enough to earn our own money).

It’s funny because when I look back now on those days, I don’t remember a single store-bought item I got for him (I can guess it had something to do with this or that, but I can’t remember the specifics). What I do remember is the little square pillow with two satin-stitched hugging monkeys, stuffed with kapok from another poor pillow that had seen better days. And I can see as clear as day the two mini-dolls I had sewn from a pair of once-white socks, made to look like my dad and my stepmom, with yarn for the hair and twisted bits of wire for glasses, and bits of cloth for their clothes, and lace thrown around the shoulders to keep them together (ahem… it was a wedding anniversary present :P). The best part about it? Rummaging through their closets many years after, I discovered both on a shelf, kept likeĀ precious mementos of a child’s love.

Have I mentioned that I probably inherited my love for scrapbookingĀ from my father, who has always kept every single bit of “art” that his children created for him? He doesn’t know a thing about acid-free stuff or chipboard or papers… but he does know how to appreciateĀ beauty in the ordinary, and how to preserve little moments in a tangible form… and isn’t that what scrapbooking is about? šŸ™‚

This is what it’s all about.

I just came across a wonderful quote by Kyle Lake:

” Live. And Live Well. BREATHE. Breathe in and Breathe deeply. Be PRESENT. Do not be past. Do not be future. Be now. On a crystal clear, breezy 70 degree day, roll down the windows and FEEL the wind against your skin. Feel the warmth of the sun. If you run, then allow those first few breaths on a cool Autumn day to FREEZE your lungs and do not just be alarmed, be ALIVE. Get knee-deep in a novel and LOSE track of time. If you bike, pedal HARDā€¦ and if you crash then crash well. Feel the SATISFACTION of a job well done-a paper well-written, a project thoroughly completed, a play well-performed. If you must wipe the snot from your 3-year old’s nose, don’t be disgusted if the Kleenex didn’t catch it allā€¦ because soon he’ll be wiping his own. If you’ve recently experienced loss, then GRIEVE. And Grieve well. At the table with friends and family, LAUGH. If you’re eating and laughing at the same time, then might as well laugh until you puke. And if you eat, then SMELL. The aromas are not impediments to your day. Steak on the grill, coffee beans freshly ground, cookies in the oven. And TASTE. Taste every ounce of flavor. Taste every ounce of friendship. Taste every ounce of Life. Because-it-is-most-definitely-a-Gift.”

There’s something amazing about stumbling upon a pebble and, holding it up for closer inspection, discovering it’s actually a precious rock. That’s what this quote is: a precious rock I just happened to stumble upon today. I love it because it encapsulates so well what scrapbooking is all about. It’s all about living in the moment. Savoring the extraordinariness of the ordinary. Seeing diamonds where others see coal. And celebrating that.


When I got home this afternoon after doing the thousand errands we mothers must get done, I saw a piece of paper on my chair, the one I always sit on. It was folded in a careful-haphazard way (does that make sense to you? It does if you’ve ever had a child fold something “carefully”) and covered with scotch tape. I smiled even before I could open it. After prying the tape off carefully, I unfolded the paper and saw what I, as mama, will call ART. The best part of the whole work was seeing my name in that childish scrawl: mama.


A little bitĀ later, my son wandered into the room and, as nonchalantly as he could, asked me: “Did you see a surprise on your chair?” He, of course, got a hug from me as I said “I loved it! Thank you!”

Mmmm. Children are SUCH blessings from Heaven.

Of wishing wells and goodnight girls

I love this song, and it’s not just because of the wonderful choice of words (alliteration rocks!) . The melody just blows me away each time I hear it. I love it just as much today as I did long ago when I would shut myself in a parked carĀ and play it as loud as I could (there must be something about teenagers and love for closed-car acoustics! :D)

I likeĀ Marti Pellow more in his long-hair dude mode than when he’s clean cut, but then that might justĀ beĀ my rebel-alter ego acting up. HAH. šŸ˜€Ā So here’s now what I consider to be the COOLER version. Such a pity that it isn’t complete and it gets cut soĀ abruptly… but seeing Marti singĀ in that boy/musician-next-door, normal-person sort of aura is so wonderful, it kind of makes one forget all the kinks in this video. Yummy.

Enjoy! šŸ˜€

Just! Did! It!

Yay! Today is a happy day! šŸ˜€

I just realized I actually accomplished three of the tasks I wanted to do. Posted stuff? Check. Fixed my avatar? Check. Changed my header? Check. ( Isn’t it such a wonderful sight? But I have to admit, I’m biased. That’s a photo my dh tookĀ on his last trip to Switzerland. He’s my inhouse photography and techie guru… I am so lucky to have him! šŸ™‚ )

IĀ just love it whenĀ my to-do lists get ticked, don’t you? Mmmm! Now there’s just one more left… that’s the goodies, and I hope to get to that real soon too!

But you know what makes me even happier? Receiving comments! I am so touched by my friend Joan’s visit to my blog… Joan, you rock!Ā (Anybody else there wanna come and rock? It’s easy… just click on the No Comments, leave me a note,Ā and seeĀ “No” magically changeĀ to a number! hint, hint! :D) My friend J is a wonderful, creative, fantastic lady whom I met in Jessica Sprague’s Up & Running beta online course, whichĀ has beenĀ one of my biggest blessings for this year. Amazing how Jessica not only taught us to get up and running with digital scrapbooking, but she also provided us with a “home” and a playground to create inĀ and a newfound family of women all over the world who are so special and wonderful. If you’re into digital scrapbooking, or if you’re just thinking about it and haven’t had the courage to jump off into the unknown, take the plunge with Jessica. You’ll never regret it. Don’t be surprised when you end up bringing home much much more than you put in–Jessica weaves magic in that way. I don’t have enough words to say how great it’s been and continues to be.Ā Go ahead and check it out:Ā  click on that link up there and read all about it. It’s the best click you’ll ever make in your life. šŸ˜‰

Another tree in my forest


Earlier I spoke of missing the forest for the trees (that is, stressing over how to make this blog work instead of just getting right down to it!) Now I feel like I’m swinging from tree to tree with all the posts I’ve been making today! šŸ˜€

So okay, my tree thisĀ time:Ā I’m going to attempt to upload an image.

Be patient with me, guys. I’m just a little baby learning to walk in blogland. šŸ˜€

This is one of the first oil paintings I made. Its title is Individuality. Kind of makes me hear “One of these things is not like the other…” playing in the background. šŸ˜€