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2018 Journal

In July of last year I came up with the brilliant idea of using a 12″ x 12″ composition book from 7 Gypsies as a base for a scrapbook-style journal to document the highpoint of life in my little family.

But since I could NEVER be happy with starting it midway through the year, part of the plan was to go back using my photographs, credit card receipts and calendar to re-create the whole year as best I could. This made the project much more complicated. A further challenge was that I’d lose a month of time while we were in Africa, so I’d be WAAAAAAAAAY behind. But that didn’t stop me from trying.

It takes one album for 2 months, needing to add an extra page to some of the albums.

I started by stamping each page with the month and date, then writing in the name of the day.

Next I’d decorate each page with washi tape, using basic designs for every day, and holiday or season-specific tapes for special days. If I was unable to find an appropriate tape, I’d use stickers to bring home the theme of the day.

Then it was time to caption the page. Usually I stamped it, but for some days I was able to find fancy paper-pieced titles to add interest.





My Canon Selphy photo printer (which had been sitting around waiting for me to figure out how I was going to use it!) played a leading role in this project. It made it so I could print photos in 3 sizes, depending on how may I needed to fit on a page – 4×6, 3×4 and 2×3.

My first completed page was for the 4th of July,

…and I’ve been working away at it ever since. I never did get completely caught up, but going back and doing as much as I possibly can is still in the plan.

So, then, with 2018 looming, I had a decision to make. Do I keep doing it, and if I do, do I use the same format, or come up with a different one?

I REALLY enjoy doing it, and the idea that I’d actually scrapbook the thousands of photos I have sitting around in boxes and drawers was looking increasingly unlikely. Yet I want to leave the family as much of a record of our lives as I can. So, yes. I’m going to do it, and since I love the format, I’m using the same bases again. Between Michael’s and Amazon I was able to secure another 6 books (in fact, I even have the first 2 for 2019!)

Needing a way to differentiate the years, I decided on altering the spine covering with duct tape for year 2.

But always in the back of my mind was the question of whether or not it is a good use of my time.

The Forrest kids thought so. I watch them 5 days a week most of the year, so they saw the album being worked on quite a bit. Whenever they’d have something they were doing (homework, watching a show or having screen time, or Lulu would be playing quietly by herself) I’d have it set up and work on it as I had a few minutes. Sometimes for hours – Lulu would get out a workbook and do her “school work” next to me at the counter.

They got to the point where they’d ask to get a picture taken of them doing something “for the journal.” Lulu likes to watch the selphy print the photos and retrieve them for me.

But since I normally only have the Stockwell kids for a short time after school and with no degree of regularity, they rarely saw what I was doing, and I don’t think it was registering.

Until this week.

Hannah saw me working on it and said, “hmmm, that looks cool. Can I look at them?” Next thing I knew she and Bea had them out on the floor, flipping through them, laughing at stories and goofy photos, pointing things out they’d forgotten, and, in Hannah’s case, correcting some of my journal entries (thank goodness on pages that were still just in pencil!) Bea, being a fellow washi tape lover, was impressed with the use of tape, vowing to use hers more in her art journal.

Hannah did point out that I seem to do more cool stuff with the Forrest kids than I do with them. In my defense I argued that I have them more often (which is true – especially Lulu since she’s only in school 3 days a week) and at times when we aren’t super rushed – the logistics can get pretty crazy when I’m trying to get all 4 where they need to be! But, I appreciated the feedback, and will attempt to up my Gaga game with them.

In fact, yesterday I had them and not the Forrest kids, so we had what Lulu calls a “guhl’s day,” and went to Michael’s to pick up some art supplies, Barnes and Noble for books, and to get mani/pedis – all of which will be documented in the journal!

Bottom line? Yeah, it’s a good use of my time!

As much as I hate to think about it, I’m not going to be here forever. It will be nice for them to have tangible pieces of our lives together for them to look back on. And having them think Gaga kinda rocks for doing the albums is pretty cool, too.

So far, 4 days in to the new year, I’m keeping up on the journal! Yay, me!


I’m not crazy about needing to go back and reconstruct more of 2017, but it’s a project I’ll take with me to Maui and try to get it completed.

And this year, even with interruptions for travel, it should be MUCH easier to stay current!



The Big Cleanse

So, if you’re following along, you know I’ve chosen “cleanse” as my word for the year.

It mostly has to do with cleaning up my life, but coincidentally, Andra and I are also doing a juice cleanse which started today.

Sun and Soil Juice Co. in downtown Sacramento is where we got our juice – fresh and organic. We’re doing the 3 day cleanse, so it was beginner for day one, intermediate for day two, and advanced for day three – 6 bottles a day for a total of 18 bottles each. Crazy!

Andra picked up the juice yesterday, and I looked so good it was all I could do to keep from drinking one last night. But I waited.

This morning our first juice was the Lemon Snap. Yum!

Next up, Beta Boom…not so yum, but drinkable. The lemon, I drank slowly and savored it. This one, I pretty much chugged.

By 1pm I was on to Sweet Green, my personal favorite of all the green juices.

By now I was hitting the restroom all the time. I think the lemon acted as a diuretic. I’ve been eating a fair amount of salt lately, causing some water retention and this broke the dam!

3 pm and time for the Beauty and the Beet, a carroty tasting red juice – quite tasty! But man, I was getting full. 6 juices in a day is a lot for me!

5 pm and time for Green Queen for dinner. Not a fan, and more chugging.

Now it’s 8pm, and I should have finished my V is for Vanilla, but again, I’m sipping and savoring. It tastes like dessert, the only night we’ll get it.

Tomorrow we graduate into the intermediate cleanse day which is a little less sweet, and the next day to the hard core, predominately vegetable juices.

Then it will be up to me whether I want to contaminate myself with sugar and other bad carbs again.

I have no illusions that I will eliminate all the bad things I eat from my diet (we have too many trips coming up!) but I like both the discipline of doing it, and the less weighed down feeling I will have. If nothing else, it will be a springboard to no nighttime eating, and getting going on getting some of this weight off.


I’m excited!



So Far, So Good

Two days do not a changed life make, but I’m off to a good start!

Getting prepared for the new flooring is my primary project at the moment. I am really close to having all the things I’m responsible for packing away done, with several days to spare. All 3 hutches and the entertainment center are emptied out,

and the guest bedroom is stuffed full of everything that was in them!

I still need to help Mr. Tattered with his office, but I don’t think it will take long. I’m so excited to have it done, then getting everything back in place!

It looks awful, but sometimes things have to get worse before they get better. That’s where “cleanse” comes into play…If I can’t get rid of things, at least I’ll get them more organized as I put them away.

I’m copying my daughter-in-law. Hers looks so awesome I just had to have it, too. My poor son. He feels like he’s married his mother, our taste is so similar!

I hope it looks as good in my house!

I’m continuing to be thrilled with my “one little word,” cleanse. Even the new floor will feed into it. The carpet in the gathering room is only a year old, but we’ve already got stains on it. I’m not naming names, but someone is a messy boy. I think the laminate will be easier to keep clean. We got one of those “robot floor cleaners.” They are MADE for this kind of floor!

“Cleanse” will be my filter for the year…will whatever it is I want to do be compatible with cleansing?

And the day for the ACTUAL cleanse is almost here. My daughter stopped and picked up our juices for our 3 day big girl cleanse. They look so yummy we wanted to dive in today, but we’re forcing ourselves to wait until tomorrow. I’ll wait until then to show you!

So. CLEANSE. Who knew cleaning could be fun? And EXCITING?



Happy New Year 2018

Well, I’m hoping for a better 2018 than 2017.

It wasn’t a COMPLETELY awful year. There were many special times and memorable moments squeezed in amongst the things that caused me anguish.

It isn’t a year I’d want to live through again, unless I knew then what I know now. There are so many things I would do differently if I had it to do over again.

But, rather than rehash what went wrong, I’m going to concentrate on looking ahead. Maybe I’ll do an autopsy later, but for now, I’m going to plan for doing better going forward.

I’d already decided that my primary focus was going to be taking better care of myself. And that’s a lot for me to bite off. I’m not good at it. I’m pretty sure there’s a psychological reason for it, but again, rather than try to figure out WHY it’s so hard for me, I’m just going to power through (at least at first) and DO BETTER.

The first item on my list was to quit balking at going to Yoga. I like it, and I know it’s good for me, but I hate taking the time to do it. I’m going to shoot for 3-4 days a week, and today was DAY 1. My daughter texted and asked if I wanted to go with her. My default reaction is to come up with an excuse why I can’t. Not today. I answered, “yes,” immediately, and we had a blast.

It was a killer 75 minute class, which I modified to the point where it was barely recognizable – but that’s okay. I showed up, and I pushed myself as hard as felt capable of pushing. My friend Renee taught me that you show up to your mat with whatever you have, and do your own practice, not the one that belongs to someone else. Fortunately, our studio embraces that same philosophy, and I have never once felt like a fake, wannabe or loser.

Anyway, off to a good start.

The second thing on my list was coming up with my “one little word” for 2018.

Until today I hadn’t really given it much thought. I was posting on social media with a private group of lady friends and suddenly “cleanse” popped into my head. I’m already starting an actual juice cleanse on the 3rd. And one of the things that will aid in taking care of myself is creating a better living environment for myself – or “cleansing it.” You get where I’m going here. It’s a very big word with lots of applications. I actually spent some time meditating on it at yoga, and I came out with the feeling that it is the perfect word for this year.

So, CLEANSE it is.

Heading into a new year of taking better care of myself, I had the benefit of actually getting my physical late in the year. My blood work came back good. No diabetes, no high blood pressure…literally nothing alarming. Given that I hadn’t had one in about 5 years, that was great news. I still need to get my mammogram and a colonoscopy, and hopefully now that I’m focusing on taking better care of myself, I’ll actually do it.

As far as my physical space goes, there are already changes in the works.

We’re having laminate flooring installed in a few days. As part of that, all the furniture in the main living area needs to be moved, which means all the hutches and entertainment unit need to be cleared out. I’d hoped that by pulling everything out, I would be able to get rid of some stuff, but that’s not looking good. I NEED everything, it appears. So, plan B is to do a better job of housing like things together.

I have to confess, I went from being pretty ambivalent about the new year just a few days ago, to being kind of excited about it!

And you know what? I think it’s going to have the side effect of getting more done, and doing a better job of recording it!


Got Time For A Quick Gaga Story?

I am very lucky to be the caregiver to all four of my grandchildren while their parents work.

Three of the four are in school full time, so I don’t have a lot of time with them. Lexi (or Lulu, to me!) is in pre-school three days a week, so we have two days that Lulu calls “guhl’s days” –  or “girl’s” days.

We do a lot of different things – watch movies, do workbooks and puzzles, practice her ABCs and writing, go to her ballet class, she cooks for me in her little kitchen, we go shopping, and sometimes we just play.

One day last week we’d been playing princess. Lulu put her new “Ariel” crown on me and laughed and laughed.

SO, we finished our playing, had a little bite to eat then headed out to run a few errands.

First on our list was a visit to the credit union.

I walked up to the first available teller (a young lady I’ve known for years, and loves to visit with my grandkids when they come in with me) and she smiled and said, “well, hello there your majesty!” I caught a glimpse of myself in the glass, and I was still wearing the crown!

One of the nice things about being old is that things like that don’t phase you at all. I laughed and acted like I wear it all the time, and Lulu giggled and giggled. I took a selfie of the two us and asked her why she didn’t tell me I was still wearing the crown. She said, “It looks pretty!”

Ha! I think she’s right! Princess Gaga. I like it.


This Is What Crazy Looks Like

It’s December. Three days in, to be precise. Now is NOT the time to think of 25 projects I want to do, but here I am.

My house looks like a bomb went off in it.

The trees are up (all four of them) but only two are decorated.







I hit a wall with getting the big tree done when I couldn’t find the decorative lights that compliment the twinkle lights. What the heck? There are only so many places I could have put them, and they aren’t in any of them, so I suspect I thought they were getting old and needed to be replaced, so I tossed them last year. That’s my working theory, anyway. I have no recollection of doing it, but I can’t come up with another explanation.

Well, except that I can’t find the bows for the travel tree, or the grownup kid’s Christmas stockings either, so there might be a missing box. But how is that possible? I always put the Christmas decor away in the same place, and it’s not there. If there even is one. I guess I need to count this year.

I could have just gotten on with decorating the tree and skipped the extra lights, but that’s so not me. By the time I came to the conclusion I was not going to find them and needed to buy new ones, it was too late yesterday, so it went on the list for today. Half the weekend gone. And the towers of boxes glared at me.

This morning I headed out to buy lights and get my toes done, but I got sidetracked after the lights were purchased (I do love them, even though they aren’t exact replicas of the ones that went on a walk-about.)

So as I sit here tonight, I’m not much further along than I was yesterday (and my pedicure is so bad I had to wear closed toe shoes to go to Josh’s basketball game!) But I DID force myself to empty the boxes so I can see what I have to work with.

And I got the Nativity Set up. I’ve never found the perfect one until this year – Lori Mitchell’s skinny legged kids…I’m in love with it!

And yet the desire to make something is burning strong.

We went to a neighborhood social gathering last night, and I met the hostess, who it turns out is a “beader,” like me. She introduced me to Robert Redford’s “Sundance” catalog, with it’s eclectic curation of clothing, home decor and jewelry. She gets many of her ideas from it, and flipping through it, I just wanted to rush home and get my beads out. But no can do.

There are decorations to get up, advent boxes to be finished, A family Christmas letter to get written, cards to address, decluttering in advance of getting my new flooring in (which is its own nightmare!) And, oh, yeah, shopping yet to be done…

I joke that I get my best work done when I’m under incredible pressure. I hope it’s still true, because time is flying and I keep adding things I need to do instead of subtracting them.

Tomorrow I take the littles to school, then I have a few hours at home with no Mr. Tattered, and I’m going to try to be super productive. No excuses. But those toes DO need to get fancied up. No, no, no. I can’t allow for even the possibility. Toes must remain a mess until the decorating is complete. For sure. Ish.



The Trouble With Fudge…

I know, weird post, huh?

My family LOVES fudge. Especially my recipe.

Store bought from those little candy stores you find in tourist areas will do in a pinch, but it’s not optimal.

I’ve been thinking about fudge a lot this year. And not in a good way. I have a love/hate relationship with it. And, as we approach the holidays, I bounce back and forth between the two.

I usually make it at Thanksgiving, and again at Christmas. Once thoughts turn to the Winter Holidays, it always gets mentioned (right along with Advent Calendars) as something to be looked forward to. This year Hannah even requested it for her birthday (instead of a cake!) and I responded with a resounding “NO!”

I sorta hate that I did this to them. But it’s one of those traditional things passed down from generation to generation I can’t seem to let go of. My mom made it every year, and her recipe rocked (although I HAVE tinkered with it just a bit – those of you who know me well know I am incapable of following a recipe to the letter – I HAVE to improvise a bit!)

So what’s the big deal, you ask?

For starters, it has little redeeming value. I mean, I suppose I could argue that chocolate isn’t all that bad, (except that it’s not dark chocolate) and there ARE nuts in it, which are healthy fats AND have some protein, but it would be a reach. For all intents and purposes it’s a bunch of fat and sugar. Irresistible fat and sugar, I might add. We’ve taken to calling it “legal crack,” an obvious reference to it’s powerful addictive quality. It just tastes SOOOOOOOO good.

Sugar is toxic, and although there is no possibility I will EVER exorcise it from my diet completely, I am trying to reduce it significantly, through a combination of less sugary choices, and smaller serving sizes. And as the family child care provider, I am TRYING to limit the intake by the munchkins.

Since reducing the sugar content is not possible in this case, smaller serving size is the responsible choice. But not everyone is able to handle this particular “crack” responsibly. And so I feel guilty, knowing I am serving the people I love, something so bad, so irresistible, in the name of “family tradition.” I cringe at the thought of little hands grabbing multiple pieces throughout the day.

But the grown ups can decide for their own children, and monitor their intake, should they choose to. Who am I to decide for them, right?  I’m so conflicted.

At this writing, I have a plan. I had already decided Christmas only. I’m sticking with that.

AND, I normally make two batches, one for nut lovers, and one for nut haters. This year I’m going to make just one, and divide it in two, 3/4 nuts, 1/4 no nuts (there are more nut lovers, than nut haters.) Hopefully they’ll see this and start making the mental adjustment now.

And the guilt starts kicking in. Guilty about making the decision to reduce supply for them, and guilty for going for full-fledged indulgence. I can’t win for losing. Between a rock and hard place. Damned if I do, damned if I don’t.

But in the absence of fudge, there’s always pies, cookies…

What’s a wife/mom/Gaga to do? Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

Welcome to my world, where there is always SOMETHING to fret about!



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