Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The sky is falling

I went to see Skyfall today and it was wonderful. I rarely go to see movies in the theater, maybe two to three times a year and its got to be something I've been waiting for. With Harry Potter and the Twilight Saga being done (although technically Twilight is not done for me yet since BD2 comes to theaters here on December 28th), the only movies I am waiting anxiously for now are Catching Fire and Mocking Jay from The Hunger Games.

Some foreign movies are released nearly the same time here as they are in their home country, but some we have to wait several months for. Almost all of the Twilight movies and The Hunger Games I waited for 6 unbearable months after American release. This trend really confounds me. Its just another aspect of my life where I have to intentionally push down my own desires and just wait patiently for these things to come. Living overseas but still expecting an American life usually only leads to frustration.

One of the best things about watching movies in the theaters here, however, is that you can take in your own food and drink. Yes, they have concession stands selling slightly overpriced (no where near American prices) popcorn, snacks and soft drinks. Most theaters here also have gourmet drinks (gourmet being Starbucks and the like). But many patrons, including myself, opt to buy a bottled water or softdrink from 7-11 before entering the cinema. I've even brought in my dinner from McDonald's before and its perfectly acceptable. I love that freedom. Theaters are clean and comfortable. I've even watched a movie in a reclining seat with foot rest before - standard for that particular theater.

One thing that used to bother me about watching foreign movies here was the intense and immediate replay of culture shock I experienced afterwards. I would get so involved in my two hours of English speaking heros and heroines, action scenes and car chases down the streets of London and San Francisco, that when the movie finished and I stepped out of the theater - back into the streets of Chinese written characters (kanji) along the streets of Tokyo, I would feel disoriented and lost for a few minutes. As the years have passed here I experience that post-movie culture shock a bit less now.

The passing of time makes some things a bit less shocking, easier to swallow and get on with life again. But it does make a few things harder too. Such as seeing how quickly my children grow and change. Learning to let go, ever so slowly yet knowing all the while that one day I will be alone again. That is how life is supposed to be. Empty nests. But I think I'm in for an entirely new kind of culture shock when the does happen.

My family and I usually only take a family photo once a year, just in time for the holidays. Sometimes we would drive far for a day outing, and sometimes we would just take the photo in the comfort of our living room. This year, we went to a nearby park where the leaves were in their glorious second spring. These photo taking sessions used to be a little bit fun - at least we could all stand close together and - if needed - tickle a smile out of the kids. My daughter is now a teenager and had no interest in taking photos with the old family. She'll smile and pose for hours at the photo-booths with her friends. But it was quite an adventure getting her to put down her cell phone and snap a few shots with mom, dad and little brother. In the end, we did take a few good ones though. Snap 150 photos and the likelihood that you get two or three goods ones increases.

This is a page that I made using one of those photos. My husband likes this photo the best because of the huge colorful tree behind us. But if I were to use this one on a Christmas postcard our faces would be smaller than a dime. Not so good if we want to show how happy we are to friends and family around the world in our annual card. So I will choose one of the other ones - one of the closer up ones.

 all papers and most elements from Journey by Etc by Danyale
dried vines from Old Garden also by Etc by Danyale

It's December, time for all the designers to break out this year's holiday scrapping designs. Since I don't have Christmas photos from this year yet I have been using photos from Christmases past. This one is of my babes from Christmas 2006. See how much they have grown since then. Time passing.

all papers and elements from Rustic Christmas by 2:00 a.m. Designs
guest designer at TDC this month.

I've finally remembered that its 2012, and here it will be 2013 in less than a month. No wonder I can't seem to keep up. Six years have passed in what feels like two, and this past one year has passed in what feels like six months.

My One Little Word for 2012 was Move. This was the first year that I have chosen a word. In the past I've made resolutions for myself - very specific goals. I can't remember achieving a single one. This year, focusing on just my one word, I believe I was successful. My goals were to MOVE myself - artistically, physically, spiritually, and in my work (would you say workfully?).

This is the page I made at the beginning of this year.

most papers and elements from The Daily Details by The Digichick Designers
some elements also from Emporium and Shutterbug both by The Digichick Designers

I made this page for the November 2102 Artisan Notebook about Scrapbooking Memes. Now, that was one I definitely had to look up. What in the world was a meme and were there any that related to specifically to scrapbooking? This is what I came up with - OLW.

all papers and elements from Kaleidoscope Kit and 

And just in case you can't read the tiny journaling - and would like to - here you go.

"Over the past several years, every January, I've heard talk around the scrapbooking community about One Little Word, otherwise called OLW. I'd read discussions in the forums about what everyone's OLW would be for that year. I had no idea what it was all about.

I used to make resolutions each new year - that come March or April would already be broken. I had good intentions, desire to change my life for the better, but would always make too many plans that were too wide sweeping, disconnected. I was setting myself up to fail from the outset.

2012. Enter One Little Word. Once I understood what it was all about, it sounded much easier to keep just one "resolution" that would encompass all of my goals.  I decided to give it a try.

I wanted to increase my physical activity. I wanted to re-energize my work situation. I wanted to deepen my friendships and kick-start my creativity. I wanted to move several areas of my life from one level to the next. So I chose MOVE as my OLW for this year.

Now, in just about any situation where I feel stuck or I know needs a change, I just repeat the word "Move." I focus on my OLW and try to apply it in nearly every area of my life. I feel good about the progress I've made over this past year. I haven't achieved every goal I would have liked, but by keeping with my One Little Word I feel more focused and more able to make the changes I need."

Okay. Enough for today, I'll be back soon. If you've made it this far I thank you.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Mustard Mouse

because Ketchup Catch-Up was already taken...

Ohhhh, where have I been. Sorry to my poor little blog for being absent this month. If anything, I was not absent but very present, very busy in life.

Our winter handmade bazaar went wonderfully. I am happy to say that *most* of my items sold - if not on the day of the bazaar then soon afterwards. ALL of my beaded ornaments sold and for that I am most thankful!

It seemed like everything was piled up, one on top of the other. First there was planning the bazaar, then Halloween to live through - which I did! Then there was DSD and the big event at The Digichick - thank you to all of you who downloaded the little freebie I made for you and left me some love! I hope you can use the badges on your pages! And then there was the mad rush to get everything made for the bazaar, and then the bazaar itself!

My brain was in a constant state of "What's next? What do I need to get done today?" and even now I'm having a bit of a hard time adjusting to not having to feel pressured. Its a bit weird, but I'm sure it's temporary as the madness of the holiday season is just around the corner.

So.... I want to do another catch-up post here with all my creations.

First, a little peak at what I made for the bazaar.

 some beaded watchbands (actually, these were left over from the spring bazaar)
 and some new felt hair clips and headbands.

 mini scrapbook albums and pages in frames

beaded snowflake ornaments

And then some of my scrapbooking pages.

 all papers and elements from Sir Plays A Lot by Sweet Digi Scraps and Etc by Danyale
font for title is from Craft Stick Rubon Brushes and font for journaling is Snarky Bess, both by Darcy Baldwin {fontography}

 all papers and most elements from La Saisons: Le printemps by ViVa Artistry
aged photo frame and coloring from Folded Frames by Charm Box Studios
font is I Love Me Some Brook by Darcy Baldwin {fontography}
page template is from Fall Flavors: Caramel Apple by Busy Bee Designs

all papers and elements from La Saisons: L' automne by ViVa Artistry
font is Fancy Nancy by Darcy Baldwin {fontography}
page template is from Luscious by Fiddle-Dee-Dee Designs
 most papers and elements from Fall Jubilee - a past freebie from ViVa Artistry
background paper from La Saisons: L'Automne also by ViVa Artistry
photo overlay from Charmstagram Textures by Michelle Batton
font for journaling is The Mister from Old Married Couple by Darcy Baldwin {fontography

 all papers and elements from Walk Like an Egyptian by Studio ViVa Artistry
page template is by Fiddle Dee Dee Designs
font is The Mister from Old Married Couple by Darcy Baldwin {fontology}

papers and most elements from Birthday Mix by Girl Boy Girl Designs
font is Squirrels in My Pants by Darcy Baldwin {fontography}

 all papers and most elements from Simply Thankful by The Digichick Designers
page template is from Fall Flavors Cranberry Orange by Busy Bee Designs
font for journaling is I am that Girl from Best of the Best 5 by Darcy Baldwin {fontography}

this hybrid bookmark was for the October TYS Scrap Challenge
 all papers and most elements from My Favorite Things by The Digichick Designers
font is I Love Me Some Brook by Darcy Baldwin {fontology}

Here is another hybrid project, this is my Thankful Tree for the Thankful Tree Challenge. I did the basic design in Photoshop and sized my canvas to fit my sketchbook page. I then printed out each layer individually and glued them into my sketchbook. For the leaves, I just printed out two blocks of the kit's patterned paper and used a leaf-shaped craft punch. I then handwrote each of my gratitudes on a leaf, then layered them to hopefully resemble a tree. The title is hand stamped.
all papers and most elements from Old Garden by Etc by Danyale
butterflies are from Kashmir by Etc. by Danyale and Sweet Digi Scraps
And finally, I have another freebie for you! I made this journaling card for the DSD Tell Your Story Card Exchange and want to share it with you as well. In the download, I have included two jpg copies of the card: one with the journaling verse written on it, and one without so you can add your own journaling for your Project 365 scrapbooks, or just a note to a friend, etc. I hope you like it.

made using Simply Thankful by The Digichick Designers

Thanksgiving is officially over, but I'm going to sneak a gratitude in here before December - I am thankful for you who take the time to visit me here at my little corner of the web. Thank you! Please come again soon!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

TDC Facebook/Blog Hop - LV2SnJP Freebie!

Happy DSD - Digital Scrapbooking Day!

Its one of the top two days in the scrapbooking world, and the very top day for Digital Scrapbooking. Sales and challenges and games abound in just about every digital scrapbooking shop on the internet. Its a big deal, just in case you didn't already know.

The Digichick is one of the top shops - definitely one of the longest-running shops - in all of digiland so you know you can expect some wonderfully fun events from us. We have challenges, games, chats and crops lined up all weekend long as well as a store-wide sale.

One of the most exciting things we like to do is a freebie hop. This is where our designers and CT members each make free gifts for you! In case you missed the beginning of the hop, it starts here at The Digichick's Facebook Page. Or maybe you already know about the hop and have arrived here from Catherine's Paper Garden Projects Facebook page. However you got here, I know why you are here!

I would like to present you with a free gift that I made just for you. It is a trio of clusters made with The Digichick Designer's November Boutique Collab - Simply Thankful. I also used Award Ribbon Templates by Girl Boy Girl Designs as a starting point to make these. I hope you like them and will use them on your pages or cards.

Your next hop stop will be Chloe's beautiful blog - Chloe's Ramblings. If you are somewhere along the hop and don't see the designers freebie up yet, please come back again to that site soon. We are scattered all over the world and it may take a few of us a bit longer to get up and running!

As always, thank you so much for stopping by my little corner of the web. I hope you'll be back again soon!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Autumn in New York, I mean Tokyo

The summer heat and humidity have finally relented and cool autumn air and crisp blue skies have arrived, along with the occasional rain shower.

At this moment in my hallway closet I have 17 umbrellas hanging on the umbrella bar (nice little feature in my Japanese home). My family of four also owns at least 4 collapsible umbrellas that we either keep in said hallway closet or in school lockers and briefcases. There may even be one more umbrella in the trunk of our car. That is a confirmed 21 umbrellas for four people! When I first posted this photo on my Facebook page last week there were only 16 hanging in my closet. I'm not sure where the other one came from. Perhaps they are propagating on their own.

We own so many umbrellas because it is considered poor form to be out in the rain in Japan without one. And when you don't have one handy when you're out and about and its starts raining, you buy one from the corner convenience store for 100 yen (about one dollar). Japan is the land of convenience and consumerism. If you don't have it and you need it, you buy it.

Years ago when I was still working in the corporate world of public relations and advertising downtown Tokyo, I invested about $50 in a really nice, very lovely umbrella. I still have it even though the silk fabric is moldy and the metal body and spines are rusty and a few even broken. I wish I could have it cleaned and fixed, but I believe that to be impossible. I will eventually have to get rid of it. And I may just have to take a trip downtown Tokyo to one of the finer department stores and buy a new one to replace it. Even though we have 17 other ones still in our house. But they are vinyl and plastic and cheap looking and not fashionable at all.

The other day we were out and about downtown and just happened to drive by the Tokyo Tower. Here is a photo that my daughter was able to shoot of it from the back window of the car. You can see the raindrops on the back window. And if you could see the area at the base of the Tower, you would see about 50 people lined up waiting for their turn to ride the elevator to the observation deck. All standing patiently in line with their umbrellas.

Its not all rain here though. Last Monday I was walking on the road approaching the park where my son was to play in a soccer game and looked up at the foliage on the side of the road. I have no idea what these lovely flowers/shrubs/weeds are called, but they looked gorgeous against the bright, clear, blue autumn sky.

Last time I promised that I would make some boy pages for my son, and I've kept my word. I also made yet another girl page for my daughter and a vintage page for my parents. Oh, and a Halloweeny page about how much I don't like Halloween. Happy viewing.

 papers and most elements from Howdy Ma'am by The Digichick Designers
butterflies from Around the World by The Digichick Designers
font is font is This One is Called Dana by Darcy Baldwin {fontology}
stamp is from Graphic Pop Sprays by Katie Pertiet
page template (altered) by Fiddle-Dee-Dee Designs

 most papers and elements from Collect Moments by Bella Gypsy
silver leaves from Serenity by Etc by Danyale
brown stamp alpha from Coming Home by Dawn by Designs
font is Uncertain Tense by Darcy Baldwin
page template (altered) from Fuss Free Banner of Love 4 by Fiddle-Dee-Dee Designs

papers and most elements from Oh My Darlin' by Kristin Cronin Barrow
small beige tag is from Cherished also by KCB
page template by Little Green Frog Designs
font is Snarky Bess by Darcy Baldwin {fontology}
stitches are by Anna Aspnes

most papers and elements from My Favorite Things - a Digichick Boutique Collab
clock “stamp” and hanging tag are from Around the World by The Digichick Designers
lace doilies and wings are from Roots and Wings by The Digichick Designers
page template (altered) is by Fiddle-Dee-Dee Designs
font is Marcia Script by Darcy Baldwin {fontology}

 all papers and elements from #13 Rue Noir by Etc by Danyale
font is Quilted Butterfly

As always, thank you so much for stopping by my little corner of the web. I hope you'll be back soon. Happy Autumn.

Sunday, September 16, 2012


My poor son. I don't make many scrapbook pages for him. I have a lot of pictures of him when he was little, but recently he just doesn't like to slow down long enough for me to snap new photos of him. He's definitely an occasion poser. By that I mean, he won't just sit for me and let me take portrait style pictures. He would much rather be out on the soccer field running around while I snap away on my camera. When I do ask him to pose for me, the poor little man obviously feels  uncomfortable in front of the lens. I guess the only real solution to this problem is to have him sit down and pose for me more - to build up his confidence. Practice makes perfect as it were. Like I said, my poor son.

All of my pages these last few weeks have used photos of my daughter. Who for some strange reason is starting to feel more aversion to having her photos taken as well! I just don't understand kids these days. It makes me feel like a real mamarazzi just trying to get some pictures to scrap.

The photo on this first page is actually a self-portrait of my girl. I just happened to be sitting next to her on the sofa one evening while she was playing with a purikura app on her smart phone. She had taken this lovely photo of herself, I caught a glimpse of it and asked her to send it to me.

I just happened to catch a glimpse of you while you were looking at photos on your cell phone. You were playing with one of those photo editing applications that add decoration to your pictures. You were working on this picture. This picture. So beautiful. Its just a snapshot of your face, but I love how its cropped. For some reason I love that you are not smiling for the camera. I love that it shows your eyes so lightly. This is you. The real you. Not posing, not trying to make someone else happy. You enjoying your own beauty. This. Is just a glimpse of your true beauty.

background paper and most elements from Miss Personality by Jenn Barrette
torn frame and small blue flower from Love You More Than Ice Cream also by Jenn Barrette
lace doily from With All My Heart by Ju Kneipp
painted alpha is Free Spirit by CD Muckosky
font is Marcia Print from Marcia Marcia, by Darcy Baldwin {fontology}
page template is from Solos Part 10 by Busy Bee Designs
These next several pages use photos that she actually posed for me. I wasn't planning on snapping any pictures and she was in a bit of a hurry. But she had just gotten her hair styled and wanted some picts to remember it by. So even though they are rushed and blurry, they are pictures of my beautiful daughter and I love them.

Dear Wonderful Girl,
It might surprise you to know, if you asked the people who love you most why they think you are so beautiful... that it has nothing to do with the way that you look, or the way that you dress, or the color of your hair or your eyes or your skin (even though those things are very beautiful too). But that what is most beautiful about you is that sparkle in your eyes that comes straight from the light of your soul.
So remember, beautiful girl, that the best beauty secret, one that you can take with you until you are very very very old, is to never let anything blow out that beautiful little light that makes you sparkle. Keep shining, lovely you. You are such a gift to the world.
You are so very very loved.

all papers and elements from Penmanship Collection by Studio ViVa Artistry
font is Jellyka Saint Andrews Queen
quote is from A Little Butterfly Told Me by Brave Girls Club

There will be a lot of things that come along in life that will make you want to stop, to quit. Beautiful girl, just keep going. We must always pick ourselves up and keep going. You can do it. You are courageous and wonderful and your heart is pure. You are meant to go to beautiful and wonderful and meaningful places in your life. So don't let anything stop you. You are so very loved.

journaling is from A Little Butterfly Told Me by the Brave Girls' Club
all papers and elements from By the Light of the Moon by Etc by Danyale
light green flower is from Renewal, also by Etc by Danyale
page template is from Summer Flavors: Strawberry Shortcake by Busy Bee Designs
font is Hugs and Kisses by Darcy Baldwin {fontology}

This lovely little dog belongs to my parents and he is more than happy to sit still and let me take as many photos of him as I want. My daughter is just happy to be with him, so the two of them being happy together make for some wonderful, happy pictures.

all papers and elements from Kashmir by Etc. by Danyale and Sweet Digi Scraps
page template is by Fiddle-Dee-Dee Designs

This last page is a photo of my family, I've already made another page with this same photo last year. But when I was asked by the Artisan Notebook to make a page about The Perfect Summer Day, I knew it had to be of a day spent with family. And since summer is the only time I get to be with my own family, this was the perfect photo for that perfect day.

Summer is the only time I get to go home to Colorado. Summer is the only time I get to see my family. So for me, a perfect summer day is when all my family comes from near and far just so we can all be together. A perfect summer day is spent surrounded by my sisters and their husbands, my niece, her husband and her babes, my nephews and their families, and of course my parents. A perfect summer day for me is spent sharing stories, taking pictures and just enjoying each other and God's blessings in our lives.

papers and most elements from Ancienne Natural by Quirky Twerp
font for title is A Fresh Start by Darcy Baldwin
font for journaling is Walkway
page template is by Fiddle-Dee-Dee Designs
As seen in the August 2012 Artisan Notebook

Finally, have you seen the Challenges over at The Digichick? Yes, I'm still in charge of them and I have a wonderful Challenge Chicks team. I'd love it if you would come and join us for a fun challenge or two. One of TDC's staff members, LuAnn, came up with a wonderful impromptu challenge idea - making new forum signatures. I'd been meaning to remake my siggy, so this was just the motivation I needed!

everything here from Love in the Park by eNKay Design

I think my goal over the next few weeks will be to make some pages for my boy. Old photos, new photos, I guess it doesn't matter. Its all about the memories.

As always, thank you so much for stopping by my little corner of the web. Please come again soon.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Of peaches and potties

One of the first "culture shocks" I experience every year going back to America happens soon after landing at the airport. Inevitably, after sitting in an airplane for a few hours with the fasten seat belt sign on, standing in lines for immigration, customs and baggage claim, mother nature calls and we all need a quick trip to the restroom.

I understand that airport restrooms are not necessarily the best representative of American potties, I do find that they are pretty much standard for a public restroom in America. After entering the stall and getting situated, the shock happens. The gaps. The cracks between the doors and the door jams in each unit. I can sometimes fit a whole finger through those gaps! If I can see the people outside of the stall, they can see me. Not that they are looking, right? But still!

The average public Japanese potty stall is more like a broom closet. There are almost never any spaces between the door and the stall, no gaping cracks through which to look out or in. Its a private little haven.

I'm not saying they are necessarily any cleaner - heaven knows Japan has more than its fair share of dirty potties. No judgement call here on which country is better or worse. Just a little observation on my part. I wonder what public potties are like in other countries. Just don't get me started on my experiences in China....

Oh! But this was probably the most shocking thing I've seen in any public restroom anywhere. The morning we were leaving to come back to Japan, at the little regional airport in my parents' hometown. Situated right over the sinks, at first glance I thought it was some new-fangled hand dryer. Not! I've never seen this one before. Sure just the fact that it was there in the first place was surprising enough, but even more so the fact that it was nearly halfway full. I'm sure I'm not the only one who's ever blogged about public potty gaps before...

Okay! Back to our regularly scheduled programing.

I've been relaxing this past week. Reading, scrapping, cleaning and cooking. I just happened to stumble upon a lovely little kit called Peachy Keen at Sweet Shoppe Designs and thought I would use it to scrap my photos of our days in the orchard.

Last May, there was an eclipse. Do you remember? Well it was big news here, and since it was pretty much a once in a lifetime event (unless I live to be 150) we had to take a few photos. Last week the ladies known as ViVa Artistry came out with their huge Celestial Collection and not surprisingly there are some beautiful, funky papers and elements that I thought would be perfect to scrap my eclipse photo.

This last page is photos of my babes just a few weeks ago. My parents and I took a day-trip drive up over a gorgeous Colorado mountain. We always have lunch at our favorite little hummingbird restaurant. What happy memories. And Sherwood Studio's From the Ashes was perfect for these photos. Julie - the designer of Sherwood Studio - also lives in Colorado so she knows exactly what tones and textures go with Colorado nature pictures. You should definitely check out her shop!

As always, thank you so much for stopping by my little corner of the web. Please come again soon!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Back in Japan Back to Scrapping

Well, I've wasted no time jumping right back in to scrapping after having returned to Japan just 5 days ago. Actually, a few of my pages were made before leaving and I'm just now getting around to updating.

I'll have some pages and commentary about our vacation in a few days (more like a few weeks knowing me). It was great fun and the best part was to be with my family again. Its always soooo hard to leave not knowing when I'll get to see them again.

Still suffering a very little bit from jet-lag and still have a ton of things to get done around the house before the kids go back to school and I go back to work, so I'll be brief today. But I'll be back "soon."

all papers and elements from Point.Shoot.Capture.-The-Bundle by Alamama's Pressed Petals
clear alpha is Seeing Clearly Alpha by Etc. by Danyale
staple is from Yearbook - Alumni Class by Alumni Digichick Designers
page template is from Solos Part 11 by Busy Bee Designs
font is from Storytelling Sisters by Darcy Baldwin {fontography}

papers and elements from Practically Perfect by Sahlin Studio and Ju Kniepp
template is from Summer Flavors: Raspberry Lemonade for the The Daily Digi August Digi Files by Busy Bee Designs
font is Mouskateer Kim by Darcy Baldwin at Sweet Shoppe Designs

everything here from Maiko by Studio ViVa Artistry, the August 2012 DST Gold Member kit

 As seen in the July 2012 Artisan Notebook

papers and elements from Thriftique and Thriftique Borders by Sherwood Studio
font is Ma's Handwriting by Darcy Baldwin Fontology
sketch is stock image on internet
lyrics are from "I Am" by Nicole Nordeman

for the Homecoming Weekend Event: School Memories Challenge at The Digichick

TDC Yearbook - Class of TDC
TDC Yearbook - Alumni Class
Blockhead Templates - Little Green Frog Designs

 papers and elements from The Great Outdoors by The Digichick Designers
font is Shannon Print by Darcy Baldwin
page template is from Little Green Frog Designs

for the Tell Your Story Everyday - Great Outdoor Traditions Challenge

Summer Flavors Raspberry Lemonade by Busy Bee for The Daily Digi August DigiFiles
Sweet Songs by Studio ViVa at Scrapbook Graphics
font is Miss Jinkie Van Pelt by Darcy Baldwin at Sweet Shoppe Designs

As always, thank you so much for stopping by my little corner of the web.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Not scrapping Not in Japan

So, this won't be a post about scrapping and it won't be about Japan.

My children and I are right I the middle of a one-month vacation visit to my family in Colorado. I can't necessarily call this town "home" since this is not the place I grew up. But this is where my family is. Home is where the heart it, and my heart is with my family. So this is home.

Just a few days after arriving here, my childhood neighborhood was scarred by a movie theater shooting. I was surprised when a few of my Japanese friends contacted me, sending me their thoughts and prayers for my hometown. I guess the incident was heard about worldwide. I won't get into any controversial thoughts I might have on the situation, just let me say that I am so happy we don't have to worry about guns in Japan. Not that it's a better place or a worse place, no judgement calls. I can't say how many movies I've watched over the years in that very theater. It was sad and shocking for so many. I pray that one day these kind of incidents will be no more.

I was able to spend five days in Aurora, with my beloved niece and her precious family. Water World - I can't even remember how many years it's been since I've been there. Great fun! Church - visiting with friends and Pastor. Seeing old friends and their own growing children. I wish I could have stayed longer and visited with more. One of these years I'm going to have to just schedule a few weeks trip to Denver.

Road trip through the Rockies, such beautiful scenery. Outlet shopping in Castle Rock. I can tell why so many foreigners like to come to the states just to shop.

My parents moved away from Denver several years ago. The big city, the crazy traffic and the all-too-fast paced life wore on them and they chose to retire in a smaller city on the other side of the Rockies.

Orchards are common here. So when my mom and dad built their home, they wanted an orchard of their own. It's not huge, but they have several fruit trees of various types of fruit. Apples, cherries, apricots, plums, pears, and of course, peaches.

This small orchard seems like a great deal of work to me, but when you get to harvest time and actually get to "reap the fruits of your labor," I can imagine no greater reward. While we're here we try to earn a little of our keep by helping out in the orchard - digging water ways, pulling weeds, making mud pies, etc. Although I'm not sure the latter counts as help.

nothing like a hot mud footbath while working away in the orchard.

hello dear son.

hello dear daughter with your silk blanket on your head.

hello precious dog and cat helpers (supervisors).

me. hiding out under mom's summer hat.

Us. Making the most of our summer here. Loving every minute of it.