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Monday, November 30, 2009

25 Days of Christmas Ornaments - Day 1

If this is your first time visiting BearCountry, welcome! I'm glad you stopped by! For the first 25 days of December I'm going to be hosting a fun and easy carnival about Christmas ornaments. Once a day I will post a MckLinky for everyone to share a photo of an ornament and the story behind it. Want to know more? I suggest you click here to read the official introduction to the carnival or leave your questions in the comment section. There are no right or wrong ornaments to share - homemade or store bought. If it's special to you, we want to hear about it!







I chose this angel ornament for the first day because it is one of my most precious ones. It was purchased in honor of a little boy I won't meet this side of Heaven, but has impacted my family none the less. Noah is celebrating his third Christmas as an angel in Heaven and I bet he and my dad are best buds by now.



















Thanks to my friend Susan, who understands code way better than I do, there's even a handy dandy 'grab the code' box if you'd like to add the button to your blog.







Photobucket


One thing to note as your planning out which ornaments to feature on which days, I plan to feature homemade ornaments the second week in December. My kids make ornaments each year and I'm hoping that we'll be able to share some fun ornament projects with each other.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sharon!



We're sending hugs right back at ya Sharon!


















Hope you had a fun and relaxing birthday (weekend)!




Love,
us.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Introducing....25 Days of {Christmas} Ornaments

Let's face it. No matter how early we finish our Christmas shopping there are always things that keep us hopping most of the 25 days in December. There isn't much time for blogging and personally, after the November I just {barely} survived, I don't want to spend very much time on the computer period.

I plan to spend December decorating, making gifts, wrapping gifts, addressing Christmas cards, listening to music, reading to my kids, and doing as many advent activities as we can.

Each year my little elves help decorate our tree and in true sibling fashion, they do it as fast as they can so they can be the one to put the good ornaments on.
They are 3 and 5. I wouldn't expect anything less.

They don't want to sit and listen to me explain where each ornament came from. They see an angel ornament, but I see the ornament I brought back from Hawaii when I was 18 so I could add it to my angel collection. Some day they might want to know the stories behind the ornaments we'll hand down to them.

Some day they will be decorating a tree with their children and they will be the ones sharing the significance of why we bought them the ornaments they received during their childhood.

If you are a regular visitor to BearCountry you've probably noticed that blogging has taken a back seat many times this year because I'm the breadwinner in the family right now, but I am determined that Christmas won't pass us by without recording some special memories for my family.

Isn't that why most of us blog in the first place? If you'd like to record the story behind 25 of your Christmas ornaments on your blog and share each post with others, I will be posting a Mcklinky daily starting December 1st.

Will you join me?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Yesterday

I finished four different Christmas card designs.

I went to a birthday party.

I went to Target with PapaBear and the kids to pick out Lego's (using birthday money - thanks Mom!)

I sat in the Target cafe so I could but the final touches on the 4th card.

I went to Sam's Club to print 4 batches of cards.

I corrected a mistake on one of the cards. (Thank goodness for laptop's a good batteries so I could do it in the car!)

I went back into Sam's Club to reprint a batch of cards.

I met a client to go over the layout for her blog book.

I went to the mall to grab a bite to eat and grab some names of potential book publishers in hopes of getting a generic version of Alphabitty Moments published.

I delivered a batch of Christmas cards to a client.

I begged my way past three Sam's Club's employees so I could pick up the final batch of cards a minute after closing time.

I was given a free Italian Cream Cake (YUM!) because it was going to expire the next day.

I drove home and collapsed on the couch for a few hours before today....

Today we decorated our church for Christmas - 40 foot Christmas tree. 3 foot Moravian star. It's a tradition we really enjoy being a part of.

Julia had the meltdown of a lifetime when we got home because she was so tired, but once she was asleep I left for the office to prepare for a bookmaking class that I'm teaching tomorrow. Nothing like waiting until the last minute!

If you make books online and have any tips you'd like to share - please leave them in the comments. types of books, companies you recommend, digital scrapbook sites that you like, etc.....

Thanks!

Yesterday

I finished four different Christmas card designs.

I went to a birthday party.

I went to Target with PapaBear and the kids to pick out Lego's (using birthday money - thanks Mom!)

I sat in the Target cafe so I could but the final touches on the 4th card.

I went to Sam's Club to print 4 batches of cards.

I corrected a mistake on one of the cards. (Thank goodness for laptop's a good batteries so I could do it in the car!)

I went back into Sam's Club to reprint a batch of cards.

I met a client to go over the layout for her blog book.

I went to the mall to grab a bite to eat and grab some names of potential book publishers in hopes of getting a generic version of Alphabitty Moments published.

I delivered a batch of Christmas cards to a client.

I begged my way past three Sam's Club's employees so I could pick up the final batch of cards a minute after closing time.

I was given a free Italian Cream Cake (YUM!) because it was going to expire the next day.

I drove home and collapsed on the couch for a few hours before today....

Today we decorated our church for Christmas - 40 foot Christmas tree. 3 foot Moravian star. It's a tradition we really enjoy being a part of.

Julia had the meltdown of a lifetime when we got home because she was so tired, but once she was asleep I left for the office to prepare for a bookmaking class that I'm teaching tomorrow. Nothing like waiting until the last minute!

If you make books online and have any tips you'd like to share - please leave them in the comments. types of books, companies you recommend, digital scrapbook sites that you like, etc.....

Thanks!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Alphabitty Moments - The letter K

Welcome to Alphabitty Moments! This project that started almost a year ago has turned into so much more than a blog carnival, but wasn't that the whole idea? I am too busy (aren't we all!) to not try to eek out the most from every project I take on. After months of posting layouts I had Sam's book printed just in time to enter it in Blurb's Best Book Contest. If you follow me on Twitter, you already know that yesterday my book was chosen as the grand prize winner in the family category. I burst into tears when I saw the results. I get teary just thinking about all wonderful people who made this possible for me. Thank you!

Sam's book will be under the tree for him this year, but Julia's is still in the works. I had really hoped to have it done in time to share with the class I'm teaching on Monday, but I had work things that needed my attention first. Most of her pages are done which is really nice come Thursday when it's time for me to write this post.

This isn't my favorite layout in the world, but it works for now. I'm a notorious tweeker.
I will go over back over projects again and again and again. Just ask PapaBear's cousin and Kristina who I've hired to assist me with my blog book design business! Thanks to their hard work we are on track to finish four books this month - on top of the three photography books I've designed!

The power is out at the park today so I'm posting this from the cutest little coffee shop in town. White lights are twinkling all around me and it makes me anxious to get my own house decked out for the holidays. I'm working on plans for a gingerbread house making party and I hope to be able to host (for the first time) a holiday gathering for my extended family. And here I thought December was going to be quiet.....Ha! Be sure to stop back after Thanksgiving for the unveiling of my Christmas Carnival! I might even be pursueded to post about it earlier....or at least share the name.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Mad Dash

If you see a blur like this one....


It's just me, hustling to meet Monday's book deadline.



Five books to the printer by Monday and then I start editing a wedding, an engagement session, and two family sessions.

I'm not complaining. Really I'm not. These early Holiday deadlines mean I have to get things done early and that leaves me with more free time to enjoy the Christmas season. I have a fun carnival planned for the first 25 days of December and with most of my shopping done already, it should be a relatively stress free month.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I Heart Face - Autumn Edition

I haven't been participating in I Heart Faces weekly challenges lately but with the beautiful (but late) Fall weather we've been experiencing I thought I'd jump back in the game with one of the photographs I posted over the weekend.
This is a location in the park I haven't used before, but the cattails mixed with the leaves and red dogwood branches made for a perfect Fall background. For more entries click on the button below...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sweet November

Photographing engaged couples is very quickly becoming my favorite kind of shoot. I've been blessed with sweet couples and sweet weather.



Does it get any sweeter than that?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

With Gratitude

My hands are shaking as I sit on the floor in my office (don't ask) to write this post. If you follow me on twitter you already know that I worked until 2am on Friday morning so I could take the rest of the day off. We had a a wonderful time at the Christian Community Fair. Any time your kids can bounce in a bounce house (or six of them) without shelling out $5 per five minutes it's a good thing. They bounced for two hours - for FREE!

We got home late and after putting the kids to bed I didn't feel like being on the computer. Fourteen hours the day before was enough. So this morning as I was wading through my inbox it caught me off guard when I opened a message from Blurb about the contest. The winners are going to be announced on Wednesday so I figured it was a generic message saying thanks for participating. Imagine my surprise when I saw the words

Congratulations! You have qualified for the next round of judging in the Best Blurb Books Contest. The next round is a qualitative assessment by a panel of judges.

So with a huge smile on my face and gratitude in my heart I want to say thank you to everyone who put up with the emails, tweets, and posts supported my book during the contest.
A very very BIG thank you!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Alphabitty Moments - The letter J


It's Thursday again and that means it's time for Alphabitty Moments! I don't know where the time is going, but I'm going to have to keep this short and sweet as it is blitz time for my blog book business. This week J is for Jump. I don't think there's a parent out there who can look at a pile of leaves without remembering the absolute joy it is to watch a child jump in a pile of freshly raked leaves.

Because we live in a park we don't rake the leaves. Things are kept as natural as possible around here and that's just fine with us. Now we just rake leaves for the fun of it! And fun it is!!!!!


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Alphabitty Moments - The Book

It's here! All 66 pages!













It begins with a excerpt from the original little things post and an explanation of what Alphabitty Moments are....










Then there's the dedication to Sam, including a picture of him wearing his "I still live with my parents" shirt...









Then the next 52 pages cover every letter of the alphabet...





At the end the ittybitty detail section covers the stories behind the words I chose....



Oh how good it feels to know that all of these special memories are preserved for Sam!



If you've been meaning to vote in the contest where I've entered this book - now's the time to do it. (This post from Thursday will explain how to vote before midnight tomorrow)

Others are rallying for votes and my book has slipped from 5th place to 21st. Thank you to all who are pulling for me! There's still hope!!!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Fall Camping





Back in September we enjoyed a fun filled weekend of camping with the same group of friends we've camped with for the past 10 years. (click here for the very first Fall Camping trip) PapaBear and I had only been dating for six weeks the first time I joined the group.

Over the years we've added some significant others to the mix -including a third generation of campers. (This is only six of the eleven kids)









One thing that never changes is Kitty's to die for beef stew. I look forward to her stew as much as I look forward to family Christmas gatherings. It's that good!

We were blessed with incredible weather that weekend and considering how terrible our Fall has been we are so thankful we were able to enjoy our one weekend away (if you can call camping within sight of the house away).

On a whim we're going away again today - just us this time and a visit for dinner from Grandma and Grandpa. It's 60 degrees outside and it's only suppose to get down to 40. We'll hike and listen to the leaves crunch under our hiking boots, play a round of disc golf, swing a bat at a few baseballs, and we'll eat MamaBear Beef Stew before we roast marshmallows. I'm sure we'll talk about all the memories of previous camping trips because with a group like this - there's always stories to tell!

Have a blessed weekend everyone!

Fall Camping





Back in September we enjoyed a fun filled weekend of camping with the same group of friends we've camped with for the past 10 years. (click here for the very first Fall Camping trip) PapaBear and I had only been dating for six weeks the first time I joined the group.

Over the years we've added some significant others to the mix -including a third generation of campers. (This is only six of the eleven kids)









One thing that never changes is Kitty's to die for beef stew. I look forward to her stew as much as I look forward to family Christmas gatherings. It's that good!

We were blessed with incredible weather that weekend and considering how terrible our Fall has been we are so thankful we were able to enjoy our one weekend away (if you can call camping within sight of the house away).

On a whim we're going away again today - just us this time and a visit for dinner from Grandma and Grandpa. It's 60 degrees outside and it's only suppose to get down to 40. We'll hike and listen to the leaves crunch under our hiking boots, play a round of disc golf, swing a bat at a few baseballs, and we'll eat MamaBear Beef Stew before we roast marshmallows. I'm sure we'll talk about all the memories of previous camping trips because with a group like this - there's always stories to tell!

Have a blessed weekend everyone!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Alphabitty Moments - The letter I

Welcome to Alphabitty Moments! For more information on the roots of the carnival and how you can participate, click here. I've had Alphabitty Moments on the brain more than usual this week because #1, Sam's book arrived and I've been able to share it with friends and family and #2, I'm in the process of preparing to teach a bookmaking class in two weeks and I want a Mixbook printed in time to share with the class. That means I've got 17 pages to finish all at once. I'm getting there, but I still need to take a few more photos to fill in some gaps.

The third reason I've got Alphabitty Moments on the brain is that the blurb Best Book Contest is about to wrap up and I've been distracted by watching my book jump all over in the standings. I haven't been tweeting as much about it because I don't want to drive everyone nuts with asking for votes, but if even half my readers voted I would make it to the finals. As with so many contests these days it is a popularity contest, but at least in the final round there is a reputable panel picking the winners. $3,000 is a lot of money and while I'm not saying I have a shot at that prize, second place wins $1,000 and the others in the top 15 get $50 gift cards towards Blurb books. There is some controversy about how the leaders are being displayed but my book has been as high as 6th place so it would mean the world to me if you'd take the time to vote here. (vote once by November 9th)

And now back to your regularly scheduled programming....The letter I.
I would have thought a first born would be more apt to be the independent one, but in our family it's the baby in the family that insists on getting herself dressed, washing her own hands, and getting on the toilet herself. She may have to stand on her tippy toes to reach the faucet, but she can do it. I love that she knows to put her shoes and coat away when we come in from outside.

Independence will mean bigger things one day, say driving for instance....but for now we'll stick to the little things. A few mismatched or backwards outfits I can handle.

What did you chose for the letter I this week?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

How to make a dinosaur cake

It should be no surprise that the kids both wanted a dinosaur cake for their birthdays this year. Sam wanted to put his {five} candles in the tail (closer to the chocolate - a boy after my own heart). Julia thought her {three} candles would look good stuck in the head.

I don't know about other families with kids who have birthdays eleven days apart like ours, but for us, it has not been an issue to combine their celebrations. They don't mind one bit. If a time comes when it does bother them, we'll make some changes to our routine, but for now we have either a small family gathering on their actual birthdays, or have a bonus meal with our
family who lives close by as close to the actual birthday as we can. A party with friends usually falls between their birthdays as {wedding photography} schedules allow.

But back to the cake:

Here's how I pieced the big guy together:

1 heart shaped cake cut in half and stuck together forms the head

1 round cake cut in half forms the body

1 crescent shape cut from a 2nd round cake forms the tale.

The extra pieces form the legs and fill in the neck area.

I used Hershey's kisses for the spikes and red candies for the eyes.




I can't wait to see what they request next year! The good news is that there is a certain member of the family that is an expert cake maker that I can turn to for advice. See?












Thanks Rena for making the perfect cake {complete with a lighted fire} for our favorite cubs!

Sunday Snippets

*I fought the gate and the gate won. I open the gate in the mornings, half a sleep, usually in my bathrobe. Pinched my left index finger between a pole and a 300+ pound metal gate. Ouch.

* Tuesday - kids are doing dishes for me. As a result they are also washing my kitchen floor and getting their hands nice and clean. Score!

* Playing together. being creative

6am daylight savings time

Julia as a gorilla. Always an animal.

Phonics improvement.

Snuggles in Sam's new big boy bed.

Getting dressed twice.

Have a good morning!

It's back to school season and whether your kids start before or after Labor Day new routines are on every mom's mind these days. T...