Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Aahhh... that feels better!

I am a girl who loves lists! I have a pretty spiral notebook that is full of lists... monthly To Do lists, project lists, gift-giving lists, book to read, etc. I also make a daily To Do list on a cute pad of paper {and sometimes it takes a day or two or three to get through that list!}. But what has been driving me crazy is that I haven't had a place to see all my various projects laid out in one spot. I am visual and need to SEE it or I feel so out sorts and not organized.

After months of trying a few different systems and the frustration of not having a system at all, I finally came up with a plan I feel confident will work! So today I invested a few minutes and used some items I had on hand to create my new Project Board. I know this new system will be flexible and fluid -- just what I need!

Here are the ingredients:
  • Poster Board, 28"x22" {mine has a light grid on it that made things simple}
  • A pack of Post It Notes {one of my most favorite things in the world!}
  • A Sharpie Marker
  • My Favorite ABC Stickers
  • A large Ruler
  • A few strips of Scrapbook Paper
When I played with the Post It Notes, I figured out that I could lay them out 7 columns by 6 rows. I decided I would use the top row for my Project Titles, and have the tasks and due dates on Post It Notes below the titles. All I had to do was draw a few lines to divide up the poster board into 4"-wide columns, attached a 2.5" strip of scrapbook paper across the top, put on my title, and attach it to the wall!

Instant organization! I feel soooo much better now! Can you tell I am in denial about getting my taxes done?

Also linking up with Works For Me Wednesday at We Are That Family!

Saturday, March 27, 2010


Lately I have been a blogger who doesn't blog and a scrapbooker who doesn't scrapbook {much}. Last Sunday, however, I did make a deliberate choice to work on my youngest's baby album rather than work on taxes. He will be 7 in a couple of weeks, so I really wanted to get those last pages of his book completed! I actually got 17 pages put together, which felt really good. I need to write on and decorate those pages still, so can't yet show them here. Which is one of my problems... lots and lots of unfinished pages and projects! Anyone else have that issue?!?

I am motivated by two things:
  1. Deadlines!
  2. Saving money!
Both of those situations came into play this week as I started and completed two projects. I made two different 7"x5" softcover StoryBooks this week!

The first project was definitely deadline-oriented. Tuesday afternoon, Abbie came home from school with the news that one of the most popular boys in her class would soon be moving back to his home country of South Africa... soon as in next week. Even though he was new to the school this year, he had made many friends. She said her teacher wanted to do something special for him and have all the kids participate. So Abbie, my good girl, raised her hand and volunteered her mommy to make him a scrapbook! Of course I was happy to lend my services, and let her teacher know that when he called later that afternoon. I offered to make a little, 20-page digital StoryBook for Austin.

Wednesday, I went into school in the afternoon and took pictures of all the kids in the class. Thursday, Abbie came home with letters all her classmates had written to their friend. At first I had thought I would re-type all their notes, but after looking at them, I knew I needed to include them as is. So I photographed the letters and added them into the book. Thursday evening I got busy dropping photos of kids and letters into pre-designed layouts {tweaking the layouts as needed to fit everything in}, and by 11pm the book was mostly completed!

Friday morning, I put the finishing touches on the cover, uploaded it, and got it ordered! It will be back in time to give to Austin on his last day of school this coming Thursday. This slim little 7"x5" book will be easy to keep and transport, and will continually remind him of his friends here in the USA! This one page gives you a glimpse of how it turned out. I used the Primary Elementary Digital Kit & Predesigned Pages. {I used this same artwork in the traditional teacher albums I made last year for a client.} This project turned out really cute, I think!

So my next project was motivated by saving money! When ordering a StoryBook, it is always a better deal to order more than one. Why? Because the shipping for one is $7. But when you add another book to the order, the additional shipping charge is only $2! So the average shipping cost goes down the more books you order. And order 10 books or more at one time, and you even get an extra 10% off of each book. I wasn't ready to order 10 books, but I was motivated to take advantage of a savings on my shipping charges.

I also needed a sample to show of our 7"x5" StoryBooks. I have 11"x8.5" books, 8"x8" books, and 12"x12" pages to show off, but none of these little softcover books. I thought the perfect project for my sample book would be to use photos of my new niece for a little brag book.

My sister and her husband look soooo happy as they greet their new daughter! I started this little book Tuesday night so that I would have it done before I started the goodbye book for Abbie's classmate. Just let me say, making this little book has actually been on my To Do list for two months. Yep. But the deadline worked! In less than two hours I had all 20 pages of this sweet little book completed!

I wanted to keep this book simple, so that I can show how easy digital scrapbooking can be. I simply made each picture the page background {truly, just one click in StoryBook Creator}. I then added embellishments from a few different artwork packages I have from my vast array of Creative Memories digital products. Many of the embellishments were actually black --- but again, one click and I was able to change them to white. This is a sweet little project! I can't wait to get it in my hands, and have photos of my sweet little niece to look at off the computer.

Friday morning, I ordered both these books. I met my deadline and saved money. I even got some scrapbooking done this week! Oh, and I also saved even more... because 7"x5" Softcover StoryBooks are $5 off through April 30th! What project would you use a little book like this for?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Time flies...

Wow! I can't believe it has been over two weeks since my last post. Life has been busy with things like kids learning to cook. Abbie is able to make pancakes now... taking over Daddy's job. She is more than willing to have her big brother help with the cooking, though.

And soccer season started! What an adjustment that is for us. We have been on a soccer break for a while... the last season the kids played was Spring 2008. So now we have a weekly practice and Saturday games to add to the weekly mix of activities.

Gil is coaching Jacob's team, which Jakie loves! He coached Abbie's team before, at least two seasons.

Zachary has his first "job"! He is volunteering at the soccer fields on Saturday mornings doing odd jobs like picking up balls and passing out flyers. It is so great to see him in action.

Gil and I are also slowly working through The Love Dare with our small group. The main thing we are focusing on is praying together everyday... well, if not everyday a lot more often than we ever used to. It is good.

Life has been a little hectic, kind of chaotic, and my To Do lists seem never-ending. Our schedule has changed. Again. I am adjusting. But for someone who craves routine, it is making me feel out of sorts. But God is good, spring is here, and our blessings abound!

Monday, March 8, 2010

This Album Speaks!

This adorable paper album is now available in limited quantities! It is our first-ever RECORDABLE paper album kit! Not only does it include beautiful papers, photo mats, stickers, and embellishments using the Beautiful Day artwork, but you can also record a 20-second message when you are done adding your photos! The album has twelve 6.5" square pages, and comes with an evelope for mailing. Click here to see it in action!

What a sweet gift for Mother's Day... for sharing baby photos and gurgles with grandma... or in place of a card for a special friend...

This album will truly speak to those you love! It is a limited edition product, available now. {If you love the artwork like I do, you will also love the Limited Edtion 12x12 Beautiful Day Additions and Limited Edition Beautiful Day Download. These are only available through April 30th, 2010 or while supplies last.) Who can you bless with this sweet album?!?

Did you see my 100th post? You don't want to miss the touching article and giveaway, here!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Connecting the Dots...

Yes, it is my 100th post to my blog! I can hardly believe it! This seems like a milestone, a momentous occasion. I have had a sort of block as to how to celebrate. I couldn't just let it pass without doing something special. I have a wonderful guest post for you, and at the end, a giveaway!

A few weeks ago I attended Creative Memories' Regional Saturday event. It was an inspiring day for me! One of the highlights was a speech given in the afternoon by a colleauge, Creative Memories Unit Leader Mindy Black. She has given me permission to share it here. I hope you will be as blessed as I was! It really affirmed for me why I do what I do, and why I love it so much.

The Dot Connector
by Mindy Black
{Speech given at Creative Memories Regional Saturday, February 2010}

I’m delighted to be here with you all. I am here today on a mission. You see, I am a dot connector and I know there is someone out there today, maybe many of you, who need me to help you connect your dots.

I have had the joy of being a professional dot connector with Creative Memories for the past twelve years. During that time, I have learned a very important fact. As a math teacher I always taught students that the shortest distance between two points is a line. I have come to realize that the shortest distance between two people is a photograph. Photographs draw us together. Stories flow. Strangers become friends and families are bonded together.

Today I would like to share a few such stories with you. These stories have evoked a deep passion within me for what I do. Through Creative Memories, I have been able to connect my own personal dots, my family’s dots, and the dots of many dear friends I have met throughout the years. It is my hope that I can help you understand the incredible significance of what you do as a consultant and/or as an album maker.

Have you ever met someone special who truly impacted your life? Sally was that woman for me. When I was in college I was involved with a Christian group on campus. Scott and Sally Koefed were the young couple who led our group. They opened their home to us regularly and we spent many a Friday night laughing and playing games together into the wee hours there.

Sally was someone I deeply admired. I wanted to be just like her when I grew up. Her intense love for Scott and their precious children was evident to all. I would watch her interact with each of them and would be amazed by her wisdom and wit. Sally always had a clever line to add to the conversation and I can still see her throwing her head back in laughter. Sally found great joy in raising her family and giving college students a home away from home. But what impressed me most about Sally was her genuine love for our Lord which simply radiated from her.

Two years ago I received news that Sally had been diagnosed with cancer at age 56. She was given two years to live. Scott and Sally actively kept us updated through her Care Page. Once again I was blessed through Scott and Sally at a time I needed to minister to them. Our loss was heaven’s gain when Sally went home to be with the Lord in October less than a year after her diagnosis.

When I heard the news I was overwhelmed with emotions. I wanted to be there with Scott and the kids. I had an intense need to be there. But “there” was Michigan and I was in North Carolina. There was no way for me to make that happen. I knew I could send flowers but that seemed empty to me. I couldn’t send my heart in flowers.

As I lay awake that night I kept asking God, “What can I do?” The thought of making an album kept coming to my mind. But how could I do that? I had only seen them a couple of times over the past twenty years. I didn’t have photos. Now was not the time to ask Scott for pictures. Then it came to me. There were pictures on the care pages.

The next day I set to work. I poured over the pages Scott and Sally had written. I wanted to give Scott and the kids something to hold in their hands. I wanted them to be able to read Sally’s words of love and encouragement over and over and hear her speaking to them. Carefully I lifted her words from the pages and wove them together with verses and songs that had encouraged them. The internet photos were not great quality but they were something. When I finished the paper album, I slipped it into the envelope and placed it in the mail, praying that it would bless those I loved during their difficult time.

I was shocked to receive a phone call from Scott within a couple of days. I can’t tell you how much that album met to him. He was so appreciative and talked about what a special and unexpected gift it was. He couldn’t wait to share it with his kids. Then he told me their youngest daughter was sick with the flu that day. My heart skipped a beat as I knew that when Joanna curled up with that album, her mother’s love would be reaching out to her once again when she needed her mother most. Yes, important dots were connected for all of us.

As Sally’s family meant the world to her, my husband and four children mean the world to me. Creating albums of love for my family enables me to connect our dots. My albums give me a place to proclaim my love to my family and to let my children know that I delight in them. Individual talents and triumphs are celebrated there with words of praise and encouragement which can read over and over. Within those pages I capture magical moments of trips taken so we can savor them again and again. There I record the very handprint of God as He guides our family.

One of my favorite albums holds the amazing adventure our family took through nine months of unemployment. We shouldn’t have survived one month yet God faithfully walked us through nine. The stories I could tell you! That album is one of our priceless treasures as it records the incredible miracles God worked on our behalf that I don’t ever want us to forget.

But it is not enough just to connect my dots and the dots of those I love. There are countless numbers of people around us who have their own stories to tell and dots that need connecting.

One of my customers was having trouble with her teenage son. It didn’t matter what she said. There was constant friction between the two of them. So she set about to make a baby album for him. In the album she reminded him of special times they had spent together and wrote of her love for him. When she completed the album she handed it to him. He placed the album under his arm and disappeared into his room without a word. An hour later he came out and threw his arms around her. You see, what he couldn’t hear went straight to his heart when he saw it in photos and print. Their dots were connected.

I’ve seen a grown man and woman with tears in their eyes after receiving an album on their fiftieth wedding anniversary. Too often people enter the later years of life and wonder if their existence even mattered. When faced with an album filled with photos, stories, and letters of love from their children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren, that couple realized that they had indeed touched many lives and that they were very much loved. What a gift they were given!

Some albums won’t have their greatest impact until years later. I’ve helped adoptive parents create an album of love for a child they had yet to meet. There they shared the longing of their hearts for a child who they already loved but did not know. As the years pass and the child wonders about her “real parents”, she will rest secure in the love of the parents who longed for her before they had ever known her.

Yes, I am a dot connector and I love what I do! But so are you. If you are simply creating albums of love for your family, you are a crucial dot connector. If you are a consultant, you are both a family and a professional dot connector. Do you have any idea how huge this is?! Do you understand the significance of what you do when you come along side of others and help them create albums of love for their families and friends?

This isn’t just about selling stuff or creating hobbies. This is about impacting lives. I can’t do this all by myself. We consultants can’t do this by ourselves. We need customers to share the mission and we need more consultants to join us. You are here today for a reason. It is time for you to connect some dots. May you have joy in the journey. May it begin today.

Thank you for reading, and for sharing my journey in blogging with me! Are you a dot connector for your family or others? If not, or if you need assistance, I would love to help you. And, to commemorate my 100th post, I promised a giveaway! Leave a comment, tell me how you connect dots (or not), and you will be entered... the prize is a goody bag of Creative Memories products worth at least $25! All my followers will automatically be entered, as well as commenters. The drawing will close at midnight EST on Friday, March 12th.

{I'm participating in Tuesdays Unwrapped with Emily at Chatting at the Sky because ordinary, regular days have a way of slipping into sweet memories we want to keep.}
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