Friday, June 14, 2013

Oh the joys

of parenting a teenager. a teenage girl and a tweenage boy. One of each, each with their own personalities, idiosyncrasies, pet peeves, breaking points.

My daughter has her first boyfriend. From what I can tell he seems to be a good boy. I say it this way because for the first month or so she completely hid the fact from us. I realized something was up and had to become "Mom the Investigator."

It was a hard, very hard couple of months. It has settled down and I'm hopeful that she has learned some lessons in truth telling and in what she can expect from her parents. I know I have.

Kindergarten: very hands on parenting and lots of parental involvement in education, friendships and activities.

Elementary school: still quite a bit of parental involvement, lessening over the years. At least I know who my children's friends are, where they are and what they are doing for the most part.

Jr HS: much less communication between the school and the parent. less communication between the parent and the child. I'm pretty sure of where my kids are, who their friends are and what they are doing.

High School: this will be new territory. Just getting into a high school will be quite the adventure, but most of it up to the teenager. Parents are pretty much hands off by this point. Schools are farther away, parents don't know or have the chance to interact with their friends' parents much.

In my ideal family my children would never tell lies, would always obey with a smile on their face (never a roll of the eyes), have wonderful friends and get straight A report cards. Ideals and reality are not the same.


Several of my pages recently have been inspired by these tumultuous past few months.

 all papers and elements from The Bard Collection by ViVa Artistry

 papers and elements from Blue by ViVa Artistry
page overlay from Superimposition: Her also by ViVa Artistry

 most elements and papers from Clothier Collection
stamps used include Clothier Collection, Note It, Quirky Originals
paper alpha is from In Such a Hurry
stamped alpha is Half Painted

made with Superimposition: She said, He said Add-ons by ViVa Artistry
The Bard Collection also by ViVa Artistry

My other pages have been piling up. So I'll just add them here in random order.

 all papers and elements from At First Sight by ViVa Artistry at Scrapbook Graphics
page template by Fiddle-Dee-Dee Designs

 everything here from Fantoccini by Viva Artistry
page template from Fiddle-Dee-Dee Designs

 everything here from Almost Spring by Etc by Danyale
except photo edges which are by Nancy Comelab
template is from Boom Da Doom Doom by Amber Morrison

all papers and elements from Coffee Tea or Me by Polka Dot Pixels
page template is from {My Heart Goes} Boom Da Doom Doom by Amber Morrison

Sorry I've been so slack about updating my poor little neglected blog lately. Mojo slip and just .... just.

Thank you always so much for stopping by, and for your warm comments. In the words of the Terminator, "I'll be back."

Wednesday, May 1, 2013


Okay, so I may or may not have accidentally deleted all of my blog decoration images from my Photobucket account. Ugh. That was only 4 years of work.

I hope you didn't come here and see it all naked and think I'd thrown in the towel. Although seeings how long I have been gone I wouldn't blame you.

In April, my friends and I once again crafted our little hearts out and held our semi-annual handmade craft bazaar. I started "crafting" in early March and kept on going all the way through the 2nd night of the bazzar. I'm still working on a few lingering special orders as well.

I made watch pendant necklaces, watch pendant keychains, beaded interchangeable watchbands, and a few mini paper scrapbook pages. Here are just a few examples.

Immediately after wrapping up the bazzar, the entire digital scrapbooking community started gearing up for this weekend's once-a-year big event iNSD (International Scrapbooking Day). I may be a bit prejudice, but if you're into digital scrapbooking you may just want to have a look at the amazing, incredible, fun challenges and events happening over at The Digichick.

I do have several pages I need to upload here, but I don't want to do it all at once. So I'm just going to up the two tonight - two that I made with new releases coming out this weekend.

This first one is of my son an my parents' sweet kitty cat. My son is definitely a cat-person - much like his mom.

papers and elements from Clean & Simple by 2am Designs
actions on photos from Joie de Vivre photo actions by Charm Box Studios in the Joie de Vivre Boutique Collab by The Digichick Designers
page template is from Nobody's Fool by Designs by Amber Morrison

I had a lot of fun making this second page. I used so many different designs by ViVa Artistry.  I love to layer and layer and make it look deep and "real." The kit won't be on sale until the 3rd so this is just a sneak peek.

most papers and elements from Illuminated Journal IV by ViVa Artistry
background papers from Fantoccini
alpha for my name is In a Hurry
word art brushes from In Control WordArt
hand brush from Note It Brushes
butterflies from Le Printemps
orange and blue flowers from Midsummer Night
pink flowers and Japanese paper from Maiko
postcard from Old Letters
yellow flower from LeReve
font is Jellyka Saint Andrews
page template from Journal Templates by Kimeric Kreations

I thank you all for sticking with me. Thank you always for stopping by and taking a look at what I've been up to. There's a lot more to say, but this is all I can manage for now.

And that is all for now. I can try and promise to update again soon. I promise I'll try. I promise I'll try to find the energy to update my blog decoration images again. I'm tired and I'm really looking forward to this 4-day-weekend Golden Week in Japan.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

This is pathetic

Okay, so this may be the longest I have gone and neglected my poor blog. I've been
a. busy
b. lazy
c. crazy
d. all of the above

If you guessed d. you are correct. Crazy busy days lead to laziness. No excuses.


The school year ends in March in Japan, and begins again in April when all the Cherry trees are in bloom. Yes, that is the reason why. Japan is big on ceremonies and for school entrance ceremonies Cherry blossoms are a must. That is why at just about every school of every kind has cherry trees at its front gate.

I'm an English language (conversation) teacher - in case you didn't already know that about me. I came here 21 years ago on a one-year contract. I studied International Business in University and was told (while doing an Internship for the Governor of Colorado) that I would need first-hand international experience in order to get an international job. I was told to just go anywhere, for a year or so, then come back and apply. That was the plan.

That was 21 years ago. Did I already mention that? These passing years get harder and harder to accept.

I love teaching English. I love each and every one of my students. I truly feel that I am doing God's calling for my life - at least for now. My life is not perfect, far from it. But there is a certain contentment and motivation toward my "work" knowing that at least in that area of my life I'm on the right track. For now.

Who am I to challenge convention? I keep my English class schedule in line with the annual school schedule and try to end a year's worth of study in March. And start again, fresh and new with the Cherry blossoms, in April.

All of this is to say, that at least for this past month "work" has been busy.


I know I am also incredibly blessed to be a member of The Digichick. I was asked to join as a Creative Team member in October 2010. Since then I have been on a few other designer's teams, and I am still on ViVa Artistry's team as well. But TDC (The DigiChick) is my digi home. I took on the task of heading up TDC's challenges about a year later. And from this past January, I was asked to become a member of site Admin and take on the position of CT Leader. I cannot tell you what a blessing this shop, these people have been in my life. I am honored and humbled at the same time.


Oh yeah, speaking of scrapbooking - since that is what is blog is supposed to be at least partially about - I do have some pages to share. Looking at all that I have to upload here makes me realize how long its been. I have December pages for pity sake! Guess I'll try to do this chronologically. Please bear with me as heretowith follows an image-heavy finale.

 papers and elements from Sugar Sands Beach Kit and Sugar Sand Boardwalk Christmas by Etc. by Danyale
font is Mary Magpie by Darcy Baldwin {fontography}
page template is by Fiddle-Dee-Dee Designs
 As seen in the December 2012 Artisan Notebook.

 my February desktop

these three pages made using Amore Mio, 
the February Boutique Collaboration by The Digichick Designers

 my February forums siggy image

 a sweet little Valentine. Both of these are made using Kitty Loves Puppy by Quirky Twerp

Papers and elements from Cupid's Arrow by Katie Creates
Template from I Heart You by Cornelia Designs
Action on photo from Inspired by Charm Box Studios
Font is I Love Me Some Brook by Darcy Baldwin {fontography}

 all papers and elements Glitter Memories  by The Digichick Designers

all papers and elements from Grey Skies by Sherwood Studio

papers and most elements from Journey by Etc by Danyale
as seen in the February 2013 Artisan Notebook

all papers and elements from Mascherari by ViVa Artistry

 all papers and elements from Quirky Originals by ViVa Artistry

all papers and elements from Confucius Says by Viva Artistry

my March forum siggy image. all papers and elements
from Slainte by The Digichick Designers

all papers and elements from A Love Like This by Kimeric Kreations
page template is by Fiddle-Dee-Dee Designs
font for journaling is So Much to Say by Darcy Baldwin {fontography}
As seen in the for the January 2013 Artisan Notebook.

all papers and elements from Exposed by ninigoesdigi at MScraps
page template by Busy Bee Designs

And while I've got you here, why don't you come join us for our March Challenges! Would love to see your pages too.

For the few who still stop by, and for the few who read this far down the post, I want to thank you for being patient with me and my complete lack of blog maintenance. Thank you so much for stopping by, please come again.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Edo Shigusa.... lessons from the Edo Period

I just got back from parents observation day at my son's school. The local elementary school has Saturday school about once a month, in one form or another. Sometimes it's Sports and Field Day. Sometimes it's just 4 hours of regular classes. Today was one of those days with one exception, the 2nd class period was open for parents to come and observe.

What better subject to watch our children learn than Ethics. The word for Ethics (Morality) in Japanese is 道徳, pronounced as DohToku. The first Chinese character, 道, means path. The second Chinese character, 徳, means virtue. So DohToku means "The Virtuous Way or the Path to Virtue." That's beautiful.

Today's lesson was absolutely fascinating to me. I learned a bit about the Edo Period in Japan and how teachings from that period deeply affect Japanese thinking and conduct even today.

Common Courtesy

Various societies have unique and sometimes opposing ideas on what is considered to be polite. Just think burping at the table after a meal or loudly slurping noodles and you get the idea. Most societies' ideals on manners are probably based on what they believe to be common sense and common courtesy towards other people: "Please," "Thank You," "You're Welcome." Lending a helping hand:  "Here, let me get that for you." Avoiding Conflict: "After you," "Excuse me," "Sorry about that."

かに歩き、Crab walk. A person should walk through a crowded space with great care in order to avoid bumping into others.

傘しげ、Umbrella tilting. People walking with umbrellas on a narrow path should tilt their own umbrella toward the outside - even if it means that they will get rained on - in order to avoid colliding with the oncoming person's umbrella or forcing the other person to get wet.

肩ひき、Turning shoulders. Two people approaching each other in tight quarters should turn their shoulders so they can pass without colliding.

こぶし腰浮かせ, Sliding Over. A person should slide to the middle of a row to make room for newcomers instead of making the newcomers walk over those people already seated.

Etc. For me, these simple courtesies are logical, reasonable, and go without saying. Common. (Okay, maybe I'd rather have someone climb over me to get to their seats instead of giving up my own seat.)

One of the main points of today's class was that courtesy is rooted in thinking about the other person over self. Japan is a small country with a relatively large population, concentrated in a few large cities. Most of the land is quite mountainous so living areas on the flatlands tend to be quite crowded. Streets are narrow and many do not have sidewalks for pedestrians. Walking paths are sometimes only wide enough for one person to walk on. Japanese courtesy is, in part, born out of these tight living quarters.

Uncommon Courtesy

If a person humbles self and honors others, discomfort and conflict can be diminished. When granting a favor to others, its common to do so quietly and without making self stand out. If either the giver or the receiver of the favor stands out, the person feels embarrassed. When accepting a favor, it's common to refuse the favor (or gift) initially. The recipient says something to the effect of, "Oh, you really shouldn't have. I can't accept this. You've gone to too much trouble on my behalf," apologizing for having needed assistance in the first place. Finally, when after the refusals to accept and the insistence on accepting are done on both sides, there are words of gratitude.

One example from today's class that stands out the most to me is that, traditionally, when one person accidentally stepped on another person's foot, the person who got stepped on would apologize for being in the way and obstructing the other person's path. (I'm not sure that it still works this way in modern Japan though.)

It was at this point that I realized - not for the first time - that Japan is unique in its way of thinking. Having lived here for so long, I have somewhat mastered the art of humbling self and exalting others. In some ways its like a game. But in order to have smooth relationships in this country, one must humble themselves at times. One must learn the art of bowing in respect to others, learn the art of apologizing, learn the distinct balance of how much to refuse a gift before receiving it. Learn how being humbled is actually to be honored. What you see is not what you see.

I am not comparing Japanese culture with American culture, or to any other part of the world. Humble, meek, respectful, sharing, placing others before self. These are excellent qualities to strive for in any society. Its hard to put it all into words, but today I fell in love with Japan a little more.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

ONE day at a time

I mentioned that in late November my family and I went to a nearby park to take our photos for our annual Christmas / New Year's card. I think I may have also noted how slightly uncooperative my daughter was. I guess its just not cool to take family pictures anymore.

Nonetheless, I will force the issue each year as long as I can because I believe that one day my babes will look back at them at be happy.

Here is a page that I made with pictures of my daughter and I on that day. These were a few photos that my husband took while setting up the camera and location. You can see how "teenagery" she was being. Hmmm.... now that I look at these again, I guess she wasn't *that* bad, she did actually smile a bit. Probably from annoyance at me. Kind of like those gas bubble smiles babies do.

 papers and most elements from Ness by ViVa Artistry
gold butterfly is from Fall Jubilee, blue butterfly is from Blue, both also by ViVa Artistry
font is I Feel Pretty by Darcy Baldwin {fontography}
alpha is by Gina Cabrerra
page template is by Fiddle-Dee-Dee Designs

So instead of forcing yet another photo session with my children so soon, for this next page I decided to go back in time once again and use pictures of when my children were actually happy to smile for the camera. I love my babes. Other than the Gift of God's own son, they are the most incredible blessing I have been granted.

 all papers and elements from L'hiver by ViVa Artistry
font is Glory Bea by Darcy Baldwin {fontography}
page template by Fiddle-Dee-Dee Designs

 I've chosen my new One Little Word for 2013. Have you? I was so happy how well I was able to focus on achieving goals last year using OLW that I definitely wanted to try it again this year. My word for this year is ONE. The reason I chose this is because I tend to get overwhelmed when I realize how much I have to do - work, home, kid's activities, etc. I'm sure we can all relate. But instead of going into overdrive, I tend to shut down completely and not accomplish anything. So I wanted to remind myself this year that I don't have to do it all. That I can just focus on ONE thing at a time and I'll be fine.

most papers and elements from Into the Great Unknown by The Digichick Designers
doily from Roots and Wings
pennant banner from Yearbook Class of TDC
hexagon stitches from Hexagon Stitches Vivid by Quirky Twerp
page template from Ring in the New by Rainy Dayz Designs
font is Traveling Typewriter

Finally, for my digi-scrapping friends this may be interesting. A friend of mine started making photo actions last year and one of them is this Resize for Web action. I've used several of these actions in the past but have never been fully satisfied. This one rocks! I rarely, if ever, have to do any final adjustments after running the action. Its the perfect amount of sharpness. I highly recommend it.

Thank you as always for stopping by my little corner of the web. Please come back again soon.