Thursday, December 27, 2007

"you did what?"

Well it didn't take him long after turning 18 to get a tattoo. Within days of turning 18, Scotty got a memorial tattoo of his father who died when he was 6 months old. It was a text message..."Mom, can I come over and show you my tattoo?" I knew he was going to do it and I knew it would be soon. I just thought he might wait a bit longer. He knew what he wanted many, many years ago. He drew a drawing of the tattoo he would have one day when he was about 12 years old. He wanted a memorial tattoo in honor of his father. He never knew his father and since he died when Scotty was only 6 months old, he has felt a huge loss throughout his life. I am not a big fan of tattoo's and especially big ones that cover large areas of the body. But, this one has meaning for Scotty and now he can feel like he has his father with him always.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Visit to see Santa

I took Jovanna to see Santa today at our LSS. She wouldn't sit on his lap, she was too shy to do that. But she did tell him a few things she wants for Christmas and Santa said "Put that on the list!"


I am interested in learning how to create my own sketches. It seems that people use many different programs to create sketches and there are soooo many people out there doing sketches that you'd think you would be able to find some tutorials, but no! I couldn't find a single tutorial. I know how to use PS to edit and enhance images but I haven't a clue how to create a scrapbook sketch from scratch using PS. Scrapdango is working on a tutorial that I hope will be ready after the holidays to help others who want to learn how to create their own sketches. So, I gave it a try and it was rough! Here is my first attempt at sketching using PS and the layout that it is based on.

Friday, November 16, 2007

My Son Turns 18!!

It is so hard to believe that my son, my baby, is 18. I don't know where the years went but I know they went by in the blink of an eye. I find my memory of things that I said I never wanted to forget is now fading. I can't recall the details of his childhood, it just went by too fast. I am thankful to be able to work from home now but I wasn't able to do that for most of Scotty's childhood. He turned out to be a handsome young man and I hope I have taught him enough as he heads out into the world.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Therapeutic Value of Scrapbooking

Gathering photographs, organizing and assembling them in a scrapbook, and doing a bit of journaling about them is a great way to spend an afternoon or late night evening when the kids are in bed. The therapeutic value of scrapbooking is immediately evident but a closer look reveals long-lasting and life-enhancing benefits. The benefits of this activity, which can be done by oneself or in the company of friends and family, may be even greater than originally imagined.

Studies and practical application are showing that scrapbooking has a therapeutic value with people with disabilities and mental illness. Scrapbooking helps to restore an overall sense of well-being, accomplishment, and self-worth. Taking photographs, scrapbooking those photos, and journaling about them displays feelings and memorabilia. In some cases, the great value is not in the actual process of scrapbooking but in the memories the pictures reveal. In addition, studies also show that when cancer patients are able to tell their deepest stories, their psychological and physiological well-being often improves greatly. We are also learning that scrapbooking the family, story-telling, journaling, and art therapy are all linked to stronger immune systems.

The reason scrapbooking is important to each of us is often for very different reasons. If you ask someone why they scrapbook, they might tell you it is for the creative expression. Ask another person, and they might tell you it is for the social outlet. Ask another person, and they might tell you it is to simply record and document the relationships with loved ones. If you ask me, I will tell you it is for all of these reasons, but most significantly, its for the therapeutic value.

I have long had an addiction to scrapbooking. It all started about ten years ago when I was invited to a scrapbook party. “What’s a scrapbook party?” I asked. I had no idea what it was about. Never heard of such a thing. I was told to bring some photos. So, I did. I brought some black and white photos of my daughter playing outside on her tricycle. In these particular photos, Jovanna was happy, zooming around on her tricycle with big smiles. She was trying to go as fast as she could from one side to the other. However, these particular photos were not a true and accurate depiction of Jovanna or our lives. Jovanna spent most of her time screaming, running away, hitting and kicking others, and throwing objects as if they were missiles and aiming for the most sensitive areas of the body. She was uncooperative, volatile, and basically did things you never imagined a child would do. I had already raised one child. It was a normal parenting experience. He is a good kid. I knew I was a good parent. But this situation was different. It was foreign to me and I was struggling to figure out how to care for Jovanna.

As I learned that evening more about the process of scrapbooking, choosing paper, thinking about placement of photos and objects on the page, playing with color, line, and form, I found myself focused on the happy moments in those photos. I recalled my feelings. I remembered her smile and her little giggle. She was enjoying herself. She was happy, and for a few brief moments, I was happy too.

I couldn’t have guessed how that one night, when someone invited me to a scrapbook party which I knew nothing about, how that night would eventually change my life forever. I made a large purchase that night, started my scrapbook goodie stash, and began scrapbooking every moment I could. Why did it take hold of me so? Why did I thrust myself into this activity with such fervor? It was many years later that I came to understand the answers to these questions. I knew it made me feel good when I did it. I knew it cast a ray of sunshine over my life and how I felt about my daughter, my life, recalling her smile, her giggle, and the sense of happiness that I felt in those few brief moments.

It was several years later that my daughter, Jovanna, was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Aspergers Syndrom (AS). You may have noticed on our website at on the About Us Page, that we express a concern with the growing rate of ASD and AS and our support for organizations that create supportive and educational avenues for parents of children with ASD or AS. Now you have a greater understanding of why SCRaPDANGo has a special interest in this area.

I knew something was different since Jovanna was a brand new infant. Jovanna was diagnosed when she was about 4 years old. The diagnosis wasn’t a huge surprise, but it did provide some answers and some direction. At the time of the diagnosis, I didn’t fully recognize why scrapbooking was so important to me, why I spent every possible moment engaged in the activity. People around me didn’t understand why I spent so many late nights, after everyone was asleep, scrapbooking and then would force myself to get up in the wee hours the next morning to care for a special needs child, another child, work a full-time demanding job, and literally exhaust myself to unsafe and unhealthy levels in the “working mom” grind.

It wasn’t until about a year ago that I truly understood why scrapbooking played such an important role in my life and to my well-being. As I was flipping through the pages of my scrapbooks one evening, I noticed that I saw a lot of happiness in those pages. There was joy and fun times. Take any page layout in my scrapbooks and if you look closely. You will see happy faces and smiles throughout them. You will see me and my children enjoying each other and our time together. You will not see the photos that reveal the rest of the story. You won’t see photos of Jovanna throwing herself on the ground, screaming at the top of her lungs, calling us awful names, hitting, kicking, biting, and the list goes on. No, you won’t see those photos. But, you will see happy moments and family times laid out in my scrapbooks.

It was that evening that it finally occurred to me why scrapbooking is so important in my life. When I scrapbook about our lives, the things we do together, the times we spend together, I get to choose how I want to remember it. And I choose to remember the moments of happiness. It is the brief moments of happiness and joy that I want to remember. I don’t want to remember the sad times, the really hard times with Jovanna – we have those every day, day in and day out. When I reflect on my life, I want to recall happiness. There’s no reason why I have to focus on and remember the difficulty of being Jovanna’s mother. But there is good reason to remember the times we enjoy each other and are happy. So, when I flip through the pages of my life as laid out in my scrapbooks now, in the years to come, and in my older years, I will see and remember the happy moments of my life and the lives of my children. I will remember their smiles. Now, that’s therapeutic!

In a recent Scrapdango newsletter, we featured an article on scrapbooking the changes in your life and new life chapters. The challenge was to scrapbook about those things that force you to turn around and look at life differently. You may not have a special needs child, but we all have changes that affect us and the people around us, whether planned or unplanned. When we get married, we don’t expect to get divorced. But it happens and it happens to a great many of us. Events happen. No person can ever say that their life was uneventful. We all turn new chapters in our lives. These should be documented and brought to life in our scrapbooking. I have expressed in great depth the therapeutic value of scrapbooking to me. I don’t want you leave this article with the impression that I only scrapbook happy things. Because I have come to understand the therapeutic value of scrapbooking, I also have a handful of special scrapbook pages about the challenging times, difficult feelings, and things that have happened in our lives. I have a page about my divorce I went through last year. I have a page on my daughter and her disability, and my hopes and dreams for her. These pages were just as therapeutic as the others. They forced me to take special time and care to design a layout that captured my emotions and journal about my innermost thoughts and feelings. The power of this type of scrapbooking and the overall therapeutic value in scrapbooking can be healing, it honors the struggles and difficult feelings, and pushes us onward and upward.

Friday, January 26, 2007

I began scrapbooking about 10 years ago. Like so many scrapbookers, when a friend introduced me to scrapbooking I was immediately hooked! Because I am also a professional photographer focusing on wedding and senior portrait work in Portland area of Oregon, I had finally found the missing link - scrapbooking was the creative outlet that allowed me to show off my great photography and express myself creatively. I spent many years working in business development and mangement. I had no idea how valuable that career experience and my passion for scrapbooking would be until years later. In 2005, it was clear that my special needs daughter with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Aspergers Syndrome could no longer function in the public school system or childcare. I had to make significant life changes, many that were quite painful. However, I decided to view my circumstances as an opportunity for growth. I donated my expensive office wardrobe and turned my business experience and passion for scrapbooking into a business and a way of life.
So much I have experienced in my life. When my time comes and I leave this earth, there are these few important truths that I hold dear.
Our dreams can come true - if we have the courage to pursue them.
Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.
Success means having the courage, the determination, and the will to become the person you believe you were meant to be.
A mother's love for her child is like nothing else in the world. It knows no law, no pity, it dares all things and crushes down remorselessly all that stands in its path.
Creativity takes courage!
Surround yourself with people who lift you higher.
Life is not measured by the Breaths we take, but by the Moments that take our Breath away...
this is who I am