Monday, July 28, 2008

LittleMan's birthday

My little guy is getting so big. He had his first birthday on Saturday. He wasn't too interested in ripping open the presents, just eating the wrapping paper. But he did love tearing into the cake. After the first few bites he picked up the entire piece of cake and went after it, Cookie Monster style.The Aftermath...To celebrate LittleMan's first birthday, I made a small freebie to share. Click on the preview to download. Leave me a comment if you like it, and enjoy!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Grand Old Flag

I finally decided to take a break from designing my own stuff and actually try to get some layouts done, because that's the whole point isn't it?This layout was made using my Stars & Stripes Forever papers, a template by Yin Designs, and a font called Attic. I'm still playing catch up with pictures from when my daughter was a baby.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Spunky Girl Add On Freebie

Tyson finally finished the attic foil on Tuesday morning, shortly before the installation company came out to install the new insulation and seal the ducts. They didn't actually end up sealing the ducts, I don't know if we misunderstood what they were going to do or what, but they did seal all the leaks around the vents where cool air could leak into the attic. We had 29% leakage of cool air before they sealed everything, and now we're down to 8%. I don't know how much more effective the new insulation is than the old (except that we have more of it), but it sure looks cleaner. If that's any indication, I give it an A+. :PWe had the cable company come out yesterday and install new cable wire so that we could switch our internet service from DSL to cable. Our service is almost twice as fast, at half the cost. You can't beat that. Tyson spent half of this morning running the cable in the attic and trying to push it down into an interior wall where he's going to install a cable jack. The installer would have done it yesterday for an additional $75, but Tyson said "No thanks, I'll do it myself."
Now I have blazing fast internet and Tyson won't have to crawl around in the attic for anything anytime soon.

Here are some new layouts by Amber spotlighting my Spunky Girl and Stars & Stripes Forever Kits.I posted this originally at the beginning of the week, but if you haven't picked up the first part of my Spunky Girl kit, you can snag it below (image is clickable).
And now I'll leave you with a bonus, an Add On to my Spunky Girl kit! Click on the preview to go to the download page. *No longer available**Sorry, this is no longer available as a freebie. You may now find this and other products available for purchase in my Blog Store.*

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Action Sale at Atomic Cupcake

I don't usually plug stores, but Atomic Cupcake is having a sale through the end of July.
Many of my scrapping buddies have asked how I make some of my embellishments, or create a torn paper look. There are other places out there to buy these types of effects (actions) for photoshop, but Atomic Cupcake is the first place that I found and I use those actions the most often. Atomic Cupcake used to have an "all you can download buffet", where all of the actions were available for download for the length of the subscription for a flat fee. Since then the pricing has changed to a per action price, but to celebrate the site's 3 year anniversary, they have re-instated the all you can download buffet. This is a great value if you want to get into design, or even if you'd like to create some of the effects for your individual layouts.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Spunky Girl has arrived!

I'm already succeeding at this better outlook on life thing. At six-something yesterday morning when Tyson and Terrence were clunking around in the attic installing more attic foil, sounding like they were going to fall through the ceiling at any moment accompanied by a herd of elephants, I thought, "Isn't it great that they are climbing up in the attic, in the middle of July, in the Texas heat, so that they can make our home more energy efficient and save us money on our utility bills?"

My Creative Team girls have come up with some more great layouts from my new kit.

Here is Jenny's heartwarming layout Live and Laugh As Much, an ode to her parents. She used my Spunky Girl kit and a template by doudouloirsirs.

Shannon created this great brag book page entitled Nat's First Birthday using template #76 by Curth's Digital Designs.

Shalene has a treat for you on her blog (if it's not there yet, check back, it will be there soon.) She created this cute FREE brag book set for you using my new kit. Hop on over and snag it!

The kit is here folks!
It has five papers, several frames, doodles, and acrylic buttons and charms. Click on the preview to be taken to the download link. Thanks for all of the comments! *Sorry, this is no longer available as a freebie. You may now find this and other products available for purchase in my Blog Store.*

Friday, July 11, 2008

A Positive Attitude

I've decided I'm going to make a conscious effort to improve my outlook on life. For instance, when I come home late from a girls' night and find the kids' dishes still on the table with food stuck to them, and an empty cup and spoon from someone's rootbeer float on the counter next to the sink, I'm no longer going to think, "Is my husband OK - or was there a terrible accident between dinner/dessert that rendered his arms and legs useless and forced him to drag himself into the other room to call for emergency assistance, leaving the dishes in place?" Instead I'm going to think, "It sure was nice of my husband to watch the kids so that I could enjoy a night out away from the kids. And it was very thoughtful of him to leave a few small tasks for me to complete when I got home, so that I would know how much I am missed when I'm gone, and that I'm an essential part of the household."...I'll let you know how that works out.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Upcoming kit

I've been busy creating a new kit this week. My creative team is hard at work putting together some layouts to feature my upcoming "Spunky Girl" kit. There is even a set of free brag book pages in the works, so check back soon. Here is a hint to pique your interest.

Julie created two layouts: the first using my "Spunky Girl" kit and template #55 from Templates Etc. By Erica.
And the second using papers and elements from my "Sunshine Day" freebie kit and template #61 by Curth's Digital Designs.
More layouts and the freebie kit to come soon, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Patriotic layouts

UFC 86 Results:
Well, Griffin won the victory by decision, and it was a close fight. I think it should have gone to Jackson though, because I thought he won three out of five rounds, but the judges scored it differently, and I might change my mind when I see the entire thing again. I do like Forest Griffin, I just didn't think he would match up well with Rampage, but I was wrong. I did well overall in my fantasy picks though. I ranked 60th out of more than 17,000 people who picked the winners, method, round, and minute of each fight.
I decided to scrap some pictures from a couple of weekends ago when we all drove out to Celebrate Freedom. We were in the car for half of the day, but it was really fun. Click on the images to view them larger. I used a sketch by Becky Higgins to create the double page layout, and I used the papers from my Stars & Stripes Forever kit.
I've had several people send me layouts they created with my kit, and I'm sharing them with you here.

This one is by Julie:And another one by Sharon aka Scrapcat4914
Here is a layout Mandy sent me. Her husband is currently serving in Iraq and I gave her special permission to use my kit for fundraising products for his Troop's welcome home activities. If you'd like to check out her cafepress store, it's here.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Energy Efficient Attic

Tyson found a local company that will give us a bunch of rebates for adding insulation to the attic. They are coming out next week to install the blown-in insulation. We won't get any rebates for the attic foil, but Tyson researched the foil, vs the spray on barrier and found that installing the foil barrier will prevent 97% of the radiant heat from coming into the attic, vs. the spray - which only prevents 15-79%, depending on brands and application method. That combined with the new insulation we'll be getting, and the new windows that we have in half of the house should save us a bundle on our utility bills. We should recoup all of our costs for the insulation and the foil in savings on our electric bill by the end of the summer.
Tyson and Terrence have been in the attic since 6am clearing out the attic and installing the foil. They were trying to get most of it done before the temperature got too intense. As of noon, they had the attic foil installed on an eighth of the ceiling, and they could already notice a difference in the overall temperature in there. Apparently it still feels like a sauna, but it's a cooler sauna than it was a couple of hours ago. When they called it quits for the day they were finished with about 1/4 of the attic. They'll work on the rest of it next weekend.

Tyson is planning to redo some of the duct work as well. Apparently when the house was originally built (in the late 1950's) electricity was so cheap that the builders didn't worry much about energy efficiency. The ducts are connected at each joint with two screws, so dirt and insulation from the attic can get inside the ducts, and then that debris is blown through the house via the air conditioning unit. He's going to clean the ducts out and reseal them before we have the crew come out and put more insulation in the attic.

Tonight Terrence, Tyson and I are meeting some friends at the Sports Bar to watch Rampage Jackson destroy Forest Griffin at UFC 86. It hasn't happened yet, so I suppose Forest could win if he has a miracle (remember when Serra got lucky and grabbed the victory from Georges St. Pierre?) but barring that, Jackson should win easily.

Friday, July 04, 2008

4th of July Festivities

We have had such a busy and fun week. Yesterday we drove about an hour to meet up with Terrence and some other friends and see some fireworks in a neighboring city. We went to this particular fireworks display three years ago and were impressed by it. We tried to go again last year, but it was postponed due to rain and we didn't make it to the rescheduled event (which was postponed again, so it wouldn't have mattered). I thought it was neat that the city had their fireworks display a day early so that their fire department and city employees could have the day off on Independence Day.
The first time that we went was nice, but this year was so much better. The event was at a public park near the new fire station. They had free snow cones for everyone, a free water balloon slingshot-wars booth, a couple of rock climbing walls (I'm not sure if those cost money or not), and a children's train. They also had a bunch of bounce houses set up on the baseball field, and a pitching booth where you could clock the speed of your baseball pitch. We didn't even make it to most of the booths because the kids ran around and played on the playground. There was also a live band, who mostly played covers of 60's songs, which seemed to please everyone. Dickie's BBQ had a huge tent and they were selling a brisket sandwich (or a hotdog), chips, and a drink for $2.00. You can't beat that.
Tyson thought it would be fun to get our 11 month old hopped up on sugar. He had a love/hate relationship with this snow cone. I think it felt good on his gums (he's cutting another tooth, that's the fifth one he's gotten in less than a month) but he seemed shocked by the cold every time he took another bite.

When it got dark, the band wound down and one of the performers and his daughter sang "The Star-Spangled Banner". Then the pyrotechnics started! I got to play with the dedicated "fireworks" setting on my camera. I think it would have worked better if I'd brought a tripod, but I took a couple of cool shots. When we brought BittyBit when she was six months old, she screamed the entire time and I had to take her into a friends van and cover her ears and sing to her until the entire thing was over. I don't really blame her, because it is a loud and somewhat sensory overloading experience. LittleMan is a little older than his sister was when she first saw fireworks, but he loved them! She still didn't like them when she was a year and a half but he sat quietly and took it all in. It is amazing how different their personalities are.
We didn't make it home until midnight (we had to drive back to the friends' house to get Terrence's keys, which he'd left on the counter, then drove him home so he could get some clothes for the next day and follow us to our house). The kids stayed awake almost the entire drive back. Considering they are usually in bed by 8pm, this was an amazing feat. We were so tired, but we woke up early to attend our church's 4th of July breakfast and kids' parade. We stuffed ourselves full of pancakes, sausages, fruit, and juice/milk, then headed outside for the parade. All of the kids brought their bikes, tricycles, scooters, rollerblades, or ride-on toys and decorated them. (Well, we didn't decorate our daughters, we had too much going on the day before - maybe next year?) Then they made a couple of laps around the parking lot while all the parents snapped pictures and cheered.
My daughter's friend C. had some seriously cool blue hair. Afterwards Tyson, Terrence, and I packed up the kids and headed home to clean up the house and get ready for a BBQ at our house. Connie brought over her grill - ours is just a tiny one, not big enough to cook for more than a couple of people. Tyson grilled burgers, hotdogs, and steaks, while Brittany and BittyBit dug for buried treasure in the backyard. Note the giant hole there, that's where Tyson started to dig a hole to plant a new tree a couple of weeks ago. He wasn't able to go get the tree that day (it's free, but we have to dig it out of a friend's yard) so now we just have a giant hole. But apparently the kids who lived here before we bought the house liked to bury matchbox cars, so it turned out to be great fun. Connie also brought over her ice cream maker, so we had homemade ice cream after lunch.Buried Treasure!LittleMan didn't like for his knees to touch the grass, so he moved around in a bear crawl for most of the day.After Rex left with Brittany, and Connie went home, the kids and I took a nap, while Tyson and Terrence took a road trip to pick up some attic foil that we purchased online the day before. That is going to be their project for tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Little Doctor

Tonight while I was overseeing the Personal Progress activity at the Young Women activity, Tyson watched the kids. BittyBit noticed an abrasion on Tyson's knee and asked him what happened. He told her that he hurt it at Jiu Jitsu the other day. She had a ton of "why" questions for him then, and when he was finished answering all of them, she looked at him for a moment then said, "Stay right here, I'm going to make you better." She came back in the room with her Dr.'s kit and brought out her toy stethoscope. She started to put it on his knee, but when it hurt him, she put it on his chest to listen to his heartbeat. You could tell that she was paying attention at her last checkup a week ago, because she moved the stethoscope around and instructed him, "Breathe in and out slowly, like this." (As she closed her eyes and demonstrated the proper way to breathe.) "Hmm, sounds good." She took the ear pieces out of her ears and hung the stethoscope around her neck, then got eye level with Tyson. In her most serious voice she said (while wagging her finger at him),"No shots today...I'm going to give you some medicine to make you better." Then she reached over, pulled the cap off of the plastic medicine bottle that came with her toy Dr. kit, pretended to remove a pill, then handed it to Tyson. Does this kid have a future in medicine or what?

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Central Market

It has kind of been one of those days. I feel a bit stressed out, but can't really think of a reason why. The kids were pretty good today. Both the kids took naps and I got some stuff done around the house. I even managed to stay away from my computer for most of the day and played with my kids and read to them instead.

Tyson and Terrence put together a swing set that we inherited from my father in law after his last move. (Speaking of giving credit where credit is due, Tyson's brother Tayton reads my blog and noticed that I didn't give him any credit for cutting down the tree in the front yard. It is something I mentioned in a previous post. Tyson pointed out that he and Tayton did most of the work, so thanks Tayton. All I did was pull on a big rope that was attached to the upper branches so that I could keep them from falling on the cars and the basketball goal in our driveway. I would have done more, but I was seven months pregnant.) Anyway, my daughter loves the swing set and she played on it for a long time today. In fact, the reason she took a nap was so that she could go back outside and play later. Hey, I'll take what I can get.

Tyson watched both of the children this morning so that I could get all the grocery shopping done. I usually take them with me, but I had a huge list today and it would have taken me 3+ hours to navigate the grocery store and Costco if I had the kids with me. As it is I finished up in less than two hours. I'm always a little dazed and confused after I complete errands without the kids because it takes so little time and it doesn't feel like I did things that much differently. Why on earth should it really take 1 1/2 to 2 times longer to do something just because I have two kids with me? Anyway, I was thankful to have some time to myself today, but I needed another dose, so I hit Central Market after the kids were in bed.
I love C.M., what more can I say? Where else can you buy seventeen different kinds of herbs and spices, in quantities that you need, for less than $5.00? My entire bill was slightly more than that, but that is only because I got a craving for sweets as I was leaving the store and bought some delicious blueberry cranberry muffins. I chowed down on a muffin in the car on my way back home while I listened to "Love the One You're With" by Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young on the radio. I remember when I was 14, 15, 16, 17, and still pining away for the same guy after things didn't work out. My mom quoted that song and told me I needed to move on. I hated that song at the time because I wanted to wallow in my misery, but now it's kind of funny when I think back on it.I almost published this post on a book club blog that I am a member of. That would have been strange.