Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Gratitude for Babies

Today my baby turned seventeen. Not sure where the time has gone. It seems like it wasn't that long ago that we were dashing off to the hospital excited to welcome him into the world and clueless to the changes that were coming! My man-child now has his feet firmly planted in the adult world and it's getting harder to remember those wonderful years where he relied on me for his every need.

I let the craziness of living get the best of me today and I forgot to turn my thoughts to the past and savor each delicious moment that seventeen years have delivered. Gratefully, my sister took the time to reflect on the precious gift this child presented and her memories unlocked the flood gates of my own treasured recollections.

Happy birthday big guy! We LOVE you!!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Preserve Your Puzzle Story

Here's a great idea that came from one of our class participants. She wanted to preserve the stories that accompanied the photos of her memory puzzle blocks. She printed a duplicate set of pictures for the project. She added a paragraph or two about who was in the picture, when and where the picture was taken and why this photo was important to her. She then slipped the pages into sheet protectors and a three-ring binder. Instant book! Kids (big and little) now have an easy way to know which pictures to search for.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Thankful for Memories

Suni's been busy preserving her Gratitude List. She's given me permission to share her thoughts here. We're grateful that Suni is such an important part of the Stories by Me mission to preserve memories.

isn't the mind an amazing thing? i mean, the fact that i can remember what it was like to be in kindergarten with mrs. henderson and the really tiny bathroom stalls, or that i feel like it was just yesterday that i was sick, laying on the floor with my pink horsey blanket and marisa let me play with her my little pony and strawberry shortcake and it meant the world to me. sometimes the details are so crisp. other times it's just the feeling that is familiar. i am amazed how a smell can jog the mind and bring back an entire conversation or situation. some days i hang on my memories, hoping they can get me through whatever it is i'm dealing with. other days i want to forget some of those memories. i am thrilled we have the ability to keep memories alive. the key is to remember. looking at pictures, spending time with loved ones, talking with family. i'm spending my time remembering today. and i'm thankful i have the memories.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Gratitude for Mothers

*This message was shared via email. There was no reference to the original author. We'd like to think that perhaps, it was written in part by moms everywhere! Thanks for sharing this Jen!

Invisible Mother......

It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store.

Inside I'm thinking, 'Can't you see I'm on the phone?' Obviously, not.

No one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all.

I'm invisible. The invisible Mom. Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this?

Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, 'What time is it?' I'm a satellite guide to answer, 'What number is the Disney Channel?' I'm a car to order, 'Right around 5:30, please.'

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated sum a cum laude - but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She's going; she's going; she is gone!

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England. Ja
nice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself.

I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, 'I brought you this.'

It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe .

I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription: 'To Charlotte , with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.'

In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work: No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names. These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit. The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.

A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, 'Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it.' And the workman replied, 'Because God sees.'

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place.

It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, 'I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become.'

At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride.

I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on.

The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, 'My Mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table.' That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, 'you're gonna love it there.'

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right.

And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.

Great Job, MOM!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Much More than a Candle!

We thought our Memory Candles were pretty cool, but we had no idea how versatile they could be. Pop out the candle, add some water and fresh flowers and voila, you have the perfect bud vase. Remove the glass votive and use the box as a handy pencil holder.

Imagine YOUR favorite images staring back you. Check out our Photo Wizard for personalizing this project.

Thanks to our class participants for sharing these great ideas!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Gratitude for Freedom

i am thankful for freedom. i am thankful for our founding fathers who fought for this freedom so that i can raise a family how i choose. i am thankful i can choose what i want to believe. and how i live. and where i live. and who i am. and what i think. and what i say. i am thankful to those who continue to fight for my freedom. and to their families. i am thankful for freedom.

suni's thoughts as seen at thumbs toes & thursday.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Thanksgiving Giveaway Winners!

Did you note the plural use of WINNERS? We only had a few contestants so we say EVERYONE's a winner!
If you left a comment for last week's drawing send us a note at http://www.mythoughts@storiesbyme.com/ and let us know your preference of the Thanksgiving tins. (Pick between Turkey Boy and Pumpkin Girl) Be sure to tell us where to ship your prize so we can get it to you right away!

Here's who we're looking to hear from:
nana sue
and janis

Thanks for taking the time to send us your comments. We're not done playing. Christmas is right around the corner and our Vintage Christmas tins are every bit as cute as the Halloween and Thanksgiving collections. Check back soon.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Why didn't we think of that?

We recently received an email from a customer who said:

"I found a way to combine two photos on one puzzle side. You have probably been there and done that, but just in case you have anyone who needs help with that random problem, I figured a way out that has worked for me!"
We are always 'PhotoShopping' someone in (0r out) of one of our projects. Of course, we were curious to learn a different technique.

Well, Emily taught us a fabulous new trick! [This works best using pictures with similiar backgrounds. These beautiful pictures are my husband's grandparents.]

Hopefully, you've already digitized your pictures. Load them into the Photo Wizard. Select the puzzle project and pick the picture that will serve as the background. I didn't want to lose any detail of Grandma Hyer's beautiful dress, so she'll be placed in front of Grandpa. Try to position the background picture so that it fills two of the three rows. This can be a bit tricky, but I kept adjusting the picture size and location until it was just right. I scaled Grandma's picture to match Grandpa and then place her over the third row.

Save the pictures and add their files to the print list. Press the Print button located on the Wizard page and print the .PDF file that is sent to you.

Since we are using Grandpa's picture as the background, I cut his squares out first. I ignored the row on the far right since Grandma's picture will go there.

Follow the kit instructions for gluing the picture squares to each block.

Next, I cut out the section that featured Grandma. Be sure to include the parts that will 'overlay' on the middle row of blocks. It was easy to follow the cream outline of the dress, but Grandma's dark hair blended into the background color and I had to 'guess' on her hair style.

All that's left is to glue these pieces to the blocks. Once you add pictures to the other sides of the puzzle, you can sand, distress and protect the project with a coat of acrylic spray.

What a ingenius way to add faces. Thanks for sharing, Emily!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Grateful for FAMILY!

We really must top our list of things we're thankful for with FAMILY! No way could we have accomplished all that we have without their support and love.

We have kids who gave up time with mom and kids who gave up personal time to BE mom. Kids who got their own meals, and took on extra chores. Kids who helped get orders out and provided free babysitting so we could get more orders.

Can't forget the extended family and their desire to see us succeed, not only in business, but in life!

Of course, we must save our biggest thanks for our wonderful husbands who stick by us through thick n' thin. They know when to keep their mouths shut...like the times when you can't find a quiet (or clean) spot in the house because we've let the business seep over into all aspects of our lives. And they know when to open their mouths and offer sound advice.

It's been a crazy, action-packed, whirlwind of a year. Thanks to our family, we're still standing and looking forward to what 2009 might throw at us!

{Yep, you counted right! There're eight boys between the two of us. Wonder why we're always running to keep up? Well, wonder no more!}

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Grateful for 2008

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Doesn't that nicely sum up 2008? What a crazy ride it has been. We sometimes felt as if we were clinging to our seats as life whipped us around for another mind-numbing spin through the turbulent highs and lows that life is famous for. Would we choose to get off the ride? Not hardly. We thought we'd spend some time this month reflecting on the things that we have learned from this year's experiences. We'd like to think that we're a little wiser, a little stronger, and a whole lot better prepared to face the challenges that 2009 will bring.

Thanks, everyone, for making the ride worth it!