Tuesday, 30 June 2009

PHOTO DISASTER and a HELP! request!

I had the most awesome photo post all edited & ready for you today (well, in the late hours of last night actually but it would have registered with today's date as it was just after midnight) &, as I was about to click "send by e mail" (in Picasa) ALL my photos flew off into the sunset! Yup, you read right...they just flittered away into oblivion. I've never seen such a thing in my life. Strange, but true...Today is a new day & I am over it (it DID take 24 hours to recover...) I have NO idea why Picasa decided to turn on me after all my months of love & loyalty but there you go...can't even trust a photo program! Needless to say me thinks Photoshop Elements is now just too long overdue & I am cooking up a scheme as to how to acquire it asap...

So, with no photos, this will have to be a newsy post, as it is too darn cold to start editing photos all over again...Durban is COLD. So cold I am having to sleep with my electric blanket on ALL NIGHT!!! Very un-environmentally friendly (ummm, I think that should be not environmentally friendly...heck, who cares, you know what I mean...) but there is nought for it as our duvet is light-weight & has sufficed for the last 3.5 years here & an electric blanket is cheaper than a wool one! Quite ironic really - just shows you how technology has advanced to become so affordable. One would imagine that something natural would be less expensive.

Yesterday I was FULL of flu. So full of it that I imagined I would be spending a large amount of time in bed today. That was not a happy thought as I haven't been out of the property since I returned from hospital on Wednesday. I was determined to venture out today so started downing every conceivable source of vitamin C, including a new one for me - HOT TODDY "Fast Recovery" &, true to their word, I woke up this morning feeling 80% better! My maid left for her annual leave of one month on Friday & I was absolutely dreading it. I know that is going to sound awful to my foreign readers but I also know that my local ones will be able to relate ;-D As Africans, we have to bear a lot & suffer in other inconceivable (to foreigners) ways, so I make no apologies for enjoying live-in help. I have certainly paid my dues in this area as I have gone through dozens of house-helpers, most of them lying, thieving, disloyal people. I now have Mercy, who is a real life angel. Our angel of mercy LOL.

When I count my blessings daily, I always count her twice!! So I was just DREADING her departure & envisaging filth & squalor. Well, I have to say (rather proudly) that I have been coping remarkably well! I have so far done 4 loads of washing (out in the laundry room in the freezing cold) & I have ironed half of it! I think I am pretty slow as it took me 2 hours, but dh & I actually got to chat for a change, while I did it, so it ain't all bad...I cleaned the whole kitchen, it is all sparkling like a Handy Andy advert & I even weeded out front & swept up all the leaves! I'm sure the novelty will wear off soon but I can't believe I actually quite enjoyed it???!!! The kids co-operated (3 out of 4 as one was with a friend) The boys were fine but Chelsea is going to have to marry royalty as she is most definitely THE laziest person I have ever met, and trying to get her co-operation was hardly worth the effort in the end...unreal...is this normal teenage behaviour or what?

Seriously...I can't believe her attitude as we have ALWAYS made our children do age-appropriate chores around the house but I have had to up the ante now as I have no Mercy/mercy - 'scuze the pun ;-D What do you expect of your kids? Surely I shouldn't be expected to "do it all"? Chelsea would like me not to set foot in her bedroom & considers things like making the bed & emptying her waste paper basket "not necessary" ( her own words LOL) Surely not? I can't BEAR not making my bed. And it's not because I'm 42. I have ALWAYS hated an unmade bed. She tells me that housework is "a waste of time" but it's not as if she has anything better to do as she spends her days a) listening to her ipod b) watching DVDs c) Talking on MXit d) On Facebook e) With friends.

I DID get to go out today at long last & have some very interesting observations to share re: where I went (other LSS) but that is for another post. Does anyone have any brainwaves as to how to get teenagers to co-operate? Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease. I am at my wit's end. She has a great life (she would no doubt beg to differ). She gets to go out both night on the weekend & a few (3-4) nights a week during the holidays. We share lifts with her bf but that still equates to a there/back trip for dh. Usually a 20 minute drive each way, at least.
She has a decent clothing allowance every month & a small amount of "going out" money over the weekends. She works hard at school & achieves good grades but is quite happy living like a tramp! I can't believe she shares my genes as I am Mrs Psychotically Tidy. Perhaps therein lies the answer...

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Journalling Junkie May Layout (Mothers' Day)

I'm going through my Drafts & trying to get everything published before the end of the month, so here is my Journaling Junkie layout from May.

Our Spec:-

Our mothers have taught us so much...but then so have our children. This fortnight make a layout journaling the lessons taught you either by your mom or your children.

Here is my title:- KIDS - Gotta Luv 'em. I drew the letters K, I, D and S, in pencil first, then coloured them in, in stripes, using a black fineliner. I rubbed out the pencil lines but only about half an hour later, when the ink was dry, to avoid smudging. I cut out the pink heart from an offcut of patterned paper & adhered it to some black card then drew the striped design using a white fineliner, echoing the title but in reverse (white on black as opposed to black on white).The other letters are...guess what...you guessed it!American Craft Canvas Thickers - I glazed them withGlossy Accents to give them a bit of shine. The heart & gift box borders I bought at the Crazy Store (Dollar store) here - I used them on this layout to represent my love for my kids & how I consider them such a gift ;-D

My challenge (to myself) here was to make the unusual colour combination of the border stickers "work". I forced myself to create this layout using a colour combination I don't think I've ever used before. I printed these photos in black & white because I took them at night & they had that awful golden (flash) glow about them. I zoomed & cropped them as best I could & ended up with 5 photos in 3 different sizes so had to work around that. I basically just double matted each photo in a different & unusual way to the next - just to keep things interesting ;-D I attached 4 buttons to the mat above the journalling (it looks like there are only 3 because the 2nd one is dark brown & not showing up against the black cardstock). These represent my 4 children, which is why the first & the last are feminine & the middle two are masculine. I threaded them first then adhered them each with a glue dot.

I hand-journalled using my white fineliner pen (I say it like I have one but the truth is I have about 20 - tied up in a big bundle with an elastic band so they are easy to grab & go if I am cropping away from home - as these pens are temperamental & often don't work or give up & need a break - so the more the merrier...)

My Journalling reads:- "I've learnt so many lessons on my parenting journey, but, most importantly, that each person on this planet is an individual & should be nurtured to develop in their own way, rather than be moulded into someone else. I think that's the main lesson for successful parenting - don't dictate to your kids, rather stand back & observe - then hone in on the talents that every individual inherently possesses."

Below is the left-hand side of the double layout. Notice how I've intentionally made each black mat a different thickness & have positioned some of them right up against the edge of the paper for a change. The printed paper is from my favourite supplier...not! - Best Creations, & came as part of a kit (no, definitely not Cocoa Daisy) - hence, I no longer subscribe to this kit company - the paper says it all. It's too revolting I know, but I have to use every paper I own 'cos I don't waste & it kinda matched...I cut the paisley border into a strip & adhered it here & there (see below the right hand photo) so it wasn't quite so dull.

Below now it the right-hand side of my layout. I promise you there are 4 buttons in that row...the naughty brown one is just melting into the backgound.

I added a strip of black bazzill to the bottom of the premade border to make it "pop" then hand-journalled the date. And, no, it's not crooked...that's just the photo...I swear!!!

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Journaling Junkie Challenge 58 Layout.

This debuted at Journaling Junkie earlier this month.

Create a layout using "age" as a title.
Journal about the significance of that age for you or that person you are scrapping about.
What realizations do you have as you contemplate on that particular age.

This was easy for me as I've been listening non-stop to Taylor Swift's new album, Fearless, and one of her songs on it is called 15. Chelsea has just turned 16 but I still have quite a few photos left to scrap from when she was still 15 & I really liked this one. It doesn't fit in with any other photos as it was an "extra" taken on our Johannesburg photo shoot with Uncle Dorian & I didn't want it to "fall by the wayside" so put it to use here.


Journalling reads:-

'Cos when you're 15 and somebody tells you they love you, you're gonna believe them, and when you're 15 feeling like there's nothing to figure out...well...count to ten...take it in...This is life before you know who you're gonna be...at 15. When you're 15 and your first kiss makes your head spin round...but in your life you'll do things greater than dating the boy in the football team...but I didn't know it at 15. And when you're 15 don't forget to look before you fall. I've found that time can heal most anything...and you just might find who you're supposed to be...I didn't know who I was supposed to be at 15 (either)...

(Lyrics courtesy of Taylor Swift) Aged 21 - from "Fearless"...I can still relate to this at 42 and just want you to know that I will always be around whenever you need me...(We are the 2 flowers on this page - both still growing)...finding out who we're supposed to be...but, lucky for you, you're still 15.

The backing cardstock is rust colourmates that I distress-shimmered with my glitter shadow shown in a previous post. I inked with dark brown & used shaped cardstock by Making Memories on top of the plain cardstock. The leafy print is from my February Cocoa Daisy Kit & I have also used a 7 Gypsies tag from a Cocoa Daisy add-on. I cut my backing cardstock shorter across the width so that I could add a scallop design down the right hand side, using semi-circles punched from a glossy green booklet I picked up in a Hearing Aid store in Gateway! The 2 little birds I used on the bottom of the page are from the front of the booklet & signify Chelsea & I. The "Life" word also comes from the front of the booklet! The black & white polka-dot card used under the scallops & also along the bottom come from Prima packaging!! I used 3 hatpins from one of my Cocoa Daisy kits, aswell as a red bling flower & the red pom-pom wire twisted around one of the hatpins. I used a rimmed rhinestone brad as the centre of the main flower, from my stash, aswell as some teardropped bling shapes, some small copper brads & some small glitter letter stickers & tiny ledger alphas from Making Memories for the "15's". The "@ 15" in the title are American Crafts Canvas Thickers, also from the Cocoa Daisy kits.

I printed the journalling onto a transparency & attached it with the 3 small copper brads (see below left) at the top & bottom left. I tucked the right hand side under one of the flower heads at the top & underneath the photo at the bottom. In real-life the transparency is a lot less obvious than it appears in the photo, where it stands out as it is catching the light!

So how do you like it? I loved creating the unusual detail down the right hand side & cutting around all the elements - the leafy vine flowers & the birds. I also thought the song was so apt & I'm so glad I now have a record of it down on paper & adapted to suit a layout of Chelsea, who also loves the song!

Friday, 26 June 2009

Cell phone saga - the last episode.

I overdid things yesterday so had to spend most of the day in bed today. My maid is going on leave tomorrow (it was her last day today) & travelling back to her homelands so it was the perfect opportunity to go through Camryn's wardrobe & send 50% of it away aswell! She has had an enormous growth spurt this year & grown out of at least half of what she owns - REALLY grown out of it - I'm talking flared trousers just not being able to pass as 3/4 pants any longer!!! So Mercy is delighted & I am relieved, even Cami is over the moon as she is now able to find things much more easily in her wardrobe. To me this is the perfect type of charity. Help those you can & those that help you, otherwise you are just feeding the "begging" mentality that is so prevalent here.

All the stretching & jumping up & down left me sore but the thought of the looming "new school" interview this morning kept me awake last night - so as soon as it was over by lunchtime today the adrenaline finally stopped coursing through my veins & I crashed, big time! On Tuesday (the day after Jack's phone was stolen) I had to get Jack home by lunchtime in order for Shane to take him off to a KZN hockey tournament so we had to return home with the police documents in hand as there wasn't enough time to fill them in there. I decided to phone the mother of one of Jack's friends as he had had HIS cellphone stolen during the first week of school & I was wanting to know how how the school had handled the situation. She told me that she had threatened to enlist the help of the Police but that the school had implored her not to & had given the class a stern talking to, threatening serious consequences for anyone found to be involved in the theft or any further incidences (as an Ipod had also gone missing during the first week!).

She told me that the boy in question had been at junior school with her son & that she had the cell no. of his "step-dad to be", his legal guardian whilst his mother was away overseas for a limited time. She suggested I phone him (which had not crossed my mind as I was obviously most apprehensive about phoning & introducing myself to a "parent" then proceeding to brand their "child" a thief!) The phone call went remarkably well & it transpired that *Archie had seen the phone the night before & asked "the two" who it had belonged to & not received a satisfactory answer. It turned out that he had "taken in" the 100% rugby scholarship boy from the township, & that the boy lived with them for the majority of the time to alleviate transport problems that he faced trying to get to school from the high-density township where he stays when with his single mother.

Archie had apparently been experiencing money going missing in greater & greater amounts since the arrival of the boy he was trying to help! He had also noticed the regression of "his" son as a result, as apparently the influence had caused him to become someone *Archie " was ashamed to know". He asked if he could phone me back after interrogating his "son" & within an hour he was in my lounge, phone in hand, together with an appallingly written half-hearted "apology" note, (Camryn could have spelt better at 8) , putting all the blame on the other boy & claiming to only be responsible for "keeping" the phone. Poor * Archie was visibly distraught over the whole ordeal & begged me not to return to the Police with the documents. He had grounded the boy for the holidays (3 weeks), taken away his cell phone & computer & was taking the other boy back to his mother that afternoon, irrespective of whether or not he was able to make it to his exams for the following 2 days. He intended talking to the other boy's mother & telling her that he was unable to assist her with any more handouts for her son, or accomodation & lifts for him, in the future.

Apparently he had bought the boy a good quality cellphone so there was no need for him to steal one. It has since been discovered that the boy has another 4 cellphones, presumably stolen! *Archie went into the school on Thursday to discuss the matter with the Head of Grade & explain why he was disassociating himself & his child from the other boy, who had only served to negatively influence "his" child & corrupt his character. I feel that *Archie is perhaps using the other boy as too much of a scapegoat to absolve "his" own son from the severity of their actions as I think that they were equally responsible for the theft of the cellphone & I'm sure it was HIS son on MXit to the girl & the one who deleted all Jack's contacts, after all HE is the one obsessed with her! He was also the one wanting Jack to PAY to get his phone back! I DID feel sorry for *Archie, having to deal with all of this while his fiance was away & by the time he left it was late afternoon & I was due in hospital at 6a.m the following morning, so I didn't go back to the Police station with the paperwork as I was fully expecting the school to take some serious action the following day.

I sent an e mail to the Headmaster, from my cell phone, on Wednesday afternoon, a few hours after my operation, informing him that we were removing our child from his establishment. I received a reply yesterday morning, from his secretary, requesting that I meet with the Headmaster at 10a.m on Monday morning. I had asked that my husband please be contacted telephonically with regard to this matter as we would like to know what disciplinary action has been taken with regard to these two boys (seeing that our son Jack was their subject) & that he please acknowledge receipt of the e mail so that I could pursue enrollment at other schools. I replied that I had "no desire for any further interactive communications" but that I would forward the e mail onto my husband, who may choose to reply separately. He hasn't. It appears that this debacle doesn't even warrant a personal phonecall so Jack is already accepted into a new school & we are hoping that next term we may experience a more personal relationship with his mentors & that his sports coaches may actually know his name! As the new school apparently has a far more organised approach to sports practices & fixtures we are hoping that it won't be necessary for Jack to take his beloved cell-phone to school as there won't be any last minute change of plans.

What are your children's school policies on theft & extortion?

I know that if my dh had received a personal phone call from the Headmaster himself this week he may well have reconsidered moving Jack, had he been satisfied that the boys had been duly disciplined.

Do you think this Headmaster has done his job well & served his school to the best of his ability, bearing in mind that two other Headmasters from "rival" schools are now fully-aware of the circumstances surrounding Jack's departure?

What would you have done in our position? I know the story is long-winded but some of you may have kids at high school too & I would really appreciate your thoughts.

Are you a real mum?

Real mums don't eat quiche...they don't have the time to make it...
Real mums know that they can find any missing kitchen utensils in the sandbox ;-D
Real mums often have dirty ovens, sticky floors but happy kids...
Real mums know that dried playdough cannot be removed from carpets
Real mums would rather not know what the vacuum just sucked up...
Real mums sometimes ask "Why me?" & get their answer when a little voice replies
"because I love you the most Mum"
Real mums know that a child's health is not measured by their weight or height
But by the progression from "mummy" to "mum"...

At 4 years old - mummy can do ANYTHING...
At 8 years old - mummy can do a WHOLE LOTTA STUFF...
At 12 years old - mum doesn't know a whole lot
At 16 years old - mum knows next to nothing
At 20 years old - mum is "way old fashioned!"
At 24 years old - mum might just know a bit about it...
At 28 years old - "let's ask mum first & see what she thinks..."
At 32 years old - we definitely need mum's opinion before we go ahead
at 45 years old - I wonder what mum would have thought?
Thereafter - I wish I had the opportunity to talk it over with mum

The beauty of a woman is not in found in the clothes that she wears or in her figure or her hairstyle. It can be seen in her eyes, because they are the doorway to her heart, where love resides. True beauty is reflected in her soul. It is seen in the caring that she lovingly gives & the passion that she shows, and the beauty of this type of woman only grows with passing years.

What type of woman are you? Are you a real mum? Is your beauty growing or diminishing?

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Cell phone drama & surgery update.

Everything went very well in hospital yesterday & I was home by 4p.m & desperate to sleep! Chelsea had taken the day off school (it is the last week of term here & exams are finished so they are not doing much) to stay with me. She is really very sweet. When it comes down to the nitty gritty she is always there for her mumma...The last time I had an operation was 5 years ago. It was an 8 hour procedure that required a lot of recuperation & was fraught with complications so I am pretty much put off surgery for life now. Once I was on the wheelie trolley on my way into Theatre I had an overwhelming urge to jump off & run away! How's that for a touch of paranoia???!!! I find anaesthetics amazing...one minute you're wide awake & the next you wake up feeling groggy & it's all over! Medical science...

Chelsea was determined that I was NOT going to get ANY sleep afterwards as she was convinced I would never wake up again as I was attached to a blood-pressure monitor & my blood pressure was kept dropping...The poor girl is rather highly-strung...so I was so glad to have Shane collect me so I could get home & REST, LOL! We went via MacDonalds as the hospital food was appalling, even for day visitors. ( It never ceases to amaze me). I had a craving for a MacFlurry of all things. I am on the most wonderful pain relief medication called Tramacet, that pretty much keeps it under control if taken as soon as the last lot starts wearing off. I am not a good patient & am already bored out of my mind not being able to zoot around in my car (can't drive for a few days) or scrap (can't do it sitting down...) Even this is a bit tricky so am straight back to bed once the saga is told. {*Yet again dreams of laptop...pink Macbook to be precise...*}

Right, onto the cellphone story...Jack has been complaining for a few weeks now about a big (100% rugby scholarship) boy in his grade, that has been threatening to "get him" ever since another boy (an ex-friend who is now anti-Jack as a girl is wooing Jack but ex-friend is obsessed with her) started a rumour that Jack called him a nigger. Jack traced it back to this boy as everyone who heard the rumour said they had heard it from him. This was very hurtful to Jack as we have lived in Africa all our lives, all of us, & spent 25 years under black government rule & do not make judgements on people based on their colour ;-( Anyway, moving on...on Monday this fella (the black one) told Jack "We're gonna get you today..." Right before Jack's History exam. He managed to get the highest mark in class for it, 92%, despite quaking in his boots as to what was going to follow afterwards, perhaps adrenaline increases clarity, interesting...

He had half an hour between the exam ending & soccer trials starting so he did some music bluetoothing with a friend of his, all the while with "the 2" looking on. He then hid his phone in the depths of his satchel & left his bag with the others at the side of the field. Trials were on the lower field, not right next door to where the bags are allowed to be placed, but he could still see them in the distance & noted that "the 2" were still lurking...He finished trials & took his bag to the changing rooms (another stupid rule - they HAVE to change back into FULL school uniform before being collected). His phone was gone, his book-bag was missing, aswell as the latest letter he had received from the young lady after his heart (Jack's best friend lives close to her so collects the fan mail, LOL!) On his way to change he noticed his book bag on the ground close by to where "the 2" were still standing, but was too upset to question them about it (unaware yet that his phone had been stolen) because of the soccer debacle (in previous post).

Jack cried. I can't remember the last time he did that. He is such a busy boy that he hardly has a minute to spend on the pc & he is so self-disciplined about his phone that he hands it to me when he is about to start his homework, so as not to be tempted to use it. It means a great deal to him. He is very social & has hundreds of MXit contacts & recently spent some birthday money on a 2 gig memory card for all his music, that he also loves. Now I was a mother on a mission...and I can get REALLY scary...Phonecalls first, Insurance, service provider, police, followed. Got sim card AND phone blacklisted (after leaving an unmentionable message on Jack's voicemail, threatening police action, hell & damnation!) so that the culprits would be unable to use the sim card OR the handset, thus rendering them both of no use whatesoever.

For some reason I don't understand, Jack's MXit was saved on his memory card. That evening Jack (shrewd boy) phoned the girl, as he suspected the culprit would have been talking to her on MXit & sure enough he HAD! Imposing as Jack of course, he put on an "in love" face (sorry, this is probably meaningless to anyone outside of SA as I think MXit is only a national thing - it is a cell-phone networking application like Facebook) & told her that he was going out with someone else! What a sicko...and stupid to boot...had he not stolen the letter & then spoken to the girl he MAY have got away with it. I had uncancellable appointments that afternoon so could only get to the Police on Tuesday after school, as Jack had to be present to make the statement himself. As a result of all the tears Jack developed a severe headache for a number of hours, thus impeding his ability to study for MATHS (most important exam...) the following day.

Before the exam he found the culprit & told him he needed to speak with him. The {stupid} boy said "Oh, I know, it's about your phone, & I may be able to find out who took it & buy it back off them, then you can BUY it back off me!!!!!!" *Talk about incriminating yourself* So far we have here 1) Defamation of Character 2) Intent to inflict grievous bodily harm - via "the bodyguard" 3) Theft 4) Extortion...And all this at school???!!! I tell ya......Oh, & he hastened to add, when Jack told him that we would be involving the Police & they would have to question him as he & the bodyguard were around the satchel at the time of the incident & because he had just said hemay know who took it, that, as he was under 16 they would not be able to "do anything"! LOL...he had another thing coming...We went straight to the Police afterwards (that took HOURS & is a post in itself, probably to be entitled "Police inefficiency in Africa"!) then phoned another friend to get hold of the boys parents' phone number.

I spoke to the step-father to be, as there is no dad around (could explain a few things...) & mother is away (???) & hey Presto, an hour later, Jack's phone was back in his little hot hands, now unable to be used until I go BACK to the Police to get an affidavit to say it has been recovered then BACK to the Service Provider with it, so that they can send it to Head Office so that they can kick-start it again. Jack put his memory card into Chelsea's phone, only to discover that this delight of a boy had deleted ALL his MXit contacts, so that he could speak to the girl without any of Jack's contacts seeing that he was doing so. Jack has accumulated those contacts over a number of years & for him it is the equivalent of us losing all our e mail or cell phone address book contacts. I attempted to enlist the help of the school but Jack & I had to do all the investigations ourselves, as the school refused to be involved in any way because they have a "no cell phone policy" & thus far it would also appear that neither of the boys have received any disciplinary action.

I attempted to speak to various people at the school & am still waiting for 4 people to return my calls. None of them have. I left a voicemail after hours on the school switchboard (the only way to communicate it would seem) also mentioning the soccer debacle & yesterday Jack had miraculously progressed to the A Team. You know that old saying..."The squeaky wheel gets the grease"...

NEXT EPISODE - Meeting with the step-father to be & how he managed to discover that the boy had the phone...and the consequences at home...tune in same time tomorrow...

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Little Shop of Sketches Layout 40.

BTW I didn't "forget about" my Little Shop of Sketches layout last fortnight. I sent it to Tanya a few hours late as we had a powercut here but she only added it days later as I gather she was preparing for a Scrapbooking Getaway. I need to get to bed now so this is just a quickie. I am up at 5 tomorrow to be at the hospital by 6a.m.

Photos are not the best quality this time as I had to photograph them inside instead in the garden.

I will repost when I get back, with full details of materials used, etc. I enjoyed this & was in the mood for sanding & distressing. Like how it turned out considering I wasn't crazy about the photo so am glad I scrapped it. It may not be the most flattering shot but it says a lot about Reilly & Camryn's relaxed way with one another & brings back happy memories of where we were at the time. I wanted the sketch at the top but it is being obstinate & refusing to budge, LOL! It is also preferring life off centre just for now...

All Systems Go...

That's what's happening here right now...everything. It has been a truly surreal week & makes even Joanne's life look boring by comparison! First thing Monday morning I had a gynae appointment for a scan. This confirmed an ovarian cyst that needs to be removed asap. I had previously been given some literature on uterine ablation (modern day alternative to a hysterectomy which involves boiling water - 87 degrees celsius - for 8 minutes - effectively destroying the uterine lining to supposedly alleviate a host of problems) & had also decided that I would take the plunge & have the procedure. I do not undergo any kind of surgical procedure lightly as I have a VERY BAD track record. I have been operated on by various cowboys in the past & the 3 ongoing problems I have have all already been operated on twice each & only made the situation even worse than it was originally.

Just to get my week started the way it intended to go on a very enthusiastic medical rep was seated next to me in the waiting room & almost fell off her chair when she heard that I was there to book the ablation procedure. (thanks to her eavesdropping abilities whilst I was liaising with the "sister" at the counter...) What followed was a 15 minute persuasion session that she hoped would result in me deciding to go with her company's procedure, which is only 3 minutes as opposed to 8 & apparently less painful. It was most unpleasant as me & over zealous sales people don't mix & I was annoyed that this was taking place in the waiting room, down the passage & eventually in the sanctum of my gynaecologist's office!!!

I hate being rude to people but had to fight her off tooth & nail as my body is no longer open for experimentation & I was determined to stick with the 96% success rate option I had received the original literature on weeks ago. She was visibly "put-out" so that was rather unsettling. I then proceeded to admissions & went through the whole "I don't have an ID rigmarole" with them (I have been going through the motions at Home Affairs for the last 3.5 years & slowly, slowly we are (apparently) making headway). Our medical aid, Nimas, that we pay a small fortune to monthly, have recently decided to remove our local hospital off their list but fortunately this ruling only kicks in in July, so I am having to have the surgery TOMORROW (so that we can get it completed before month end as she only operates twice a week). Needless to say we are going through the ridiculously complicated procedures required to cancel our medical aid & start with another one...

My next appointment was with the dentist, where I was expecting to have to book myself in for a wisdom tooth removal as I had been "teething" for the last 2 weeks & living on Nurofen, that side of my mouth was so sore. I was wondering how I was going to have 2 general anaesthetics within a short space of time or whether I could co-ordinate all 3 separate procedures to be performed simultaneously by 3 separate surgeons...all at the same time...I was rather surprised when the dentist asked me when the last time was that I went to the movies... When I told him "about 2 weeks ago" he inserted a pair of long-nose tweezers into my mouth & retrieved a piece of popcorn husk that had started decomposing between my back tooth & gum, causing a soft tissue infection & a mouth absyss. Yikes...needless to say I felt like a right fool but he assured me "it happens all the time" ;-D Apparently the more you brush the more firmly wedged it becomes, & because it is less than paper thin & almost transparent, it can so easily go undetected.

The next drama started when I collected Jack from school. His cell phone had been stolen. Good thing we had bought him a "cheap" one (R400/USD50...) to use especially for school, I thought, reason being that they DO get stolen on a regular basis. It's what everyone does here, because theft is a reality in South Africa. The school requires you to sign a "no cell phone" policy upon admission, so that they are not held responsible for any thefts. Therefore, if you DO allow your son to take a phone to school it is YOUR problem if it gets stolen. The problem is, if you DON'T allow your son to take a phone to school it is quite likely that, a couple of times a week, the activity schedule will change & he will be left stranded for anything up to 3 hours, unable to contact you to let you know the change of plans. Yes, it is THAT disorganised at certain "model C" schools here. They are quasi-government schools that rely heavily on the Old Boys & Parenting Committee to "fund raise" in order to provide more than the VERY basic facilities the government funds.

Jack had just written an exam, followed by soccer trials, with a half-hour break in between. He had taken his GOOD phone (Nokia 6300 - with a R2500/USD320 price tag) BECAUSE he had wanted to bluetooth some music to/from it with his friends & the cheapie phone can only call & sms (text). He was beside himself because, not only had his phone been stolen, he had been put into the C/D soccer squad. As Jack BREATHES football that is like a shot to the heart! As he plays in the A team at his club & has been awarded the Player of the Year trophy for two years running this was clearly an oversight. An oversight the Head of Sport was not prepared to look into when Jack himself questioned it. If Jack was incapable of making the A/B squad we would have no problem with that, but this is a case of "cluelessness" on behalf of the Sports Department at his school & part of "the last straw" that has resulted in us making the decision to move him "from the frying pan into the fire" - to another model C shool - as we can't afford the R140 000/USD17 500 per year fees to send him to one of our very prestigious private boarding schools just down the drag. (We don't want him to board anyway, as dh & I both did & grew up "too fast" as a result!)

I spent today at 2 separate Police Stations & on the phone to a third, attempting to establish which was the correct one to report the cell phone theft to, based on the school's location. Yes, that's Africa for you...I then spent the balance of the afternoon phoning 6 possible schools in my attempt to relocate Jack in time for term 3 (as holidays start on Friday). Time is of the essence as we need to "hand in notice" at his 'old' school & see what's the best 'deal' we can get at another school. As Jack is a merit student (above 80% average) & an A team all-rounder we are able to apply for scholarships/bursaries for him. While Model C school-fees are affordable Jack's sport costs us an arm & a leg with all the extra coaching & Club fees, equipment, etc, so if he qualifies for merit-based financial aid we will accept it. As Reilly says, it's "transfer season" here (just as it is for all the Pro Football Clubs shortly...)

If you really want an exciting read my next post will be about the wild ride Jack & I had today. Yes, it's been a LONG day...investigating the theft OURSELVES & eventually RETRIEVING his phone...no thanks to his school, WHO REFUSED TO BE INVOLVED as we HAD signed a "No Cell Phones" indemnity after all...

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Journaling Junkie Father's Day Layout

BTW, in case you think I'm cheating, I'm not! I said I was going to be off the pc during the weekends based on me being ON it during the week. This week has been hectic & I have been off it for days (as you'll see from my lack of posts in the week...) so this is catch up time for me, and a jolly good one it is too thanks ;-D

HAPPY FATHER'S DAY to all the deserving dads out there! On that note, here is my take on the Journaling Junkie challenge below.

Challenge 59

Create a layout in honor of Father's Day, journal about a special male relationship.
Be it your own father, your husband, your Grandfather, an Uncle, or a teacher.
Whoever he is, let him know why he's special.

This challenge closes on the 29th of JUNE midnight GMT- Please leave a comment with the link to your URL or email me eyeore at telkomsa dot net

There is still time for you to get your submissions in so get photographing today girls & add a good old sentimental page to your album!

Just loving shaped cardstock at the moment & to have it punched is a real double whammy for me! Also found the 7 Gypsies tags SO useful (Cocoa Daisy add-ons...) & the daisy lace is from a recent Cocoa Daisy kit. All the other bits 'n pieces are old...I'm on a mission to plough my way through all my old stash & it's working, woohoo! Bling circle courtesy of Heidi Swapp, ribbon my old favourite, Making Memories (great blog to follow too...)

In case you are wondering why Camryn was "the chosen one" here, it's because I have already done a Father's Day layout incorporating ALL four kids, as a class to be taught ( you can purchase the kit too...) at Reminisce but unfortunately I am unable to reveal that to you until August. Bummer... ;-(

So, don't worry, no favouritism going on in this house! Hope you like it! Tage are scrunched & inked with Chestnut brown. So loving "destroying" (serious distressing...) everything at the moment...very therapeutic...LOL!

Camryn Georgia Tilbury is growing up...

Here she is at eight. She informs me that she looks waaaaaaaaaaay older at nine, LOL! Good thing I don't think like that at my age!! We had a lovely day yesterday, despite my mind reeling with thoughts on my last post & my cell phone beeping regularly with everyone's "2 cents worth" coming through on my e mail! Dunno why people use that expression, because your opinions are like gold to me - worth far more than 2 cents! I have been umming & aahing about this whole blogging lark for the last few weeks & it's crossed my mind (more than a few times) to just pack it in & live in the "real" world. I've decided against that, you'll be glad (I hope...) to know.

I like Blogland. Heck, I LOVE Blogland. What I HATE though, is having to explain to people what it is all about. Not sure if I am the only one with this particular problem, but it is tiring & makes me feel unworthy & stupid, and I hate that feeling ;-( I want to be a good (read "great") ambassador for the virtues of the Internet, but in particular blogs & blogging, but people just DO NOT get it. Their eyes glaze over & they change the subject at the first available opportunity. I find it soul destroying. I sway between not mentioning I have a blog at all to thinking that I should be more open about what I do with my time, to people I think will care...

The reaction never changes though. It's a bit like trying to explain "born again" Christianity. You end up feeling like a freak!!! If anyone out there has an off-pat answer for me I'd love to hear it, because I really would like to know how to respond when asked "what I do" as I want to include blogging in my answer. After all, it IS a big part of what I do! Anyhow, that's an aside, I was meant to be talking about Cami (poor girl...)LOL She was an "accident" - what a happy accident she turned out to be...I can't imagine life without her OR life without 4 kids. People are always absolutely aghast that people still DO have 4 kids in this day & age, but really, I can't imagine NOT having them. It is obviously difficult financially, but perhaps they get "saved" from a lot of stuff they're best off without anyway...

The way we bring up our kids is in direct contrast with how we were brought up. I can honestly say all I ever learnt from my parents was how NOT to do it. Our children are not allowed to fight. They all get along very well as a result. Of course they have their bickerings, as do we (dh & I) I'm talking about the stuff that turns into simmering resentment which results in my scenario - an older sister come half-witch that gives me alopecia whenever we are in the same province! Parents aren't responsible for everything their children do/don't do - I know that - but childhood is such a formative time & trying to undo the "wrong learning" is a life long task that I don't want my kids to be burdened with.

We also believe in being "hands-on" - not that we have ever had a choice. We have never had the luxury of grandparents that lived in the same country. Well, we did have it once, when the older two were little, but they were NOT the hands-on type & have become even less so since they moved away. Kids are hilarious people to hang out with anyway, so I love being with them in any case...We have always talked to our children like normal people, not embiciles, and as a result they have a fantastic vocabulary & are all free-thinking, mature individuals. I also don't believe in being overly domineering as I am forward-thinking enough to realise that they will be choosing my old-age home,LOL!

I think having our kids young (26 - 32) was a really good decision. We have "grown-up" with our kids & now see the struggles friends & relatives have, having "sown their wild oats" a decade too long & got used to their independence. Trying to cope with babies & toddlers should not be on one's agenda after 40, for your own good! I realise though that some people don't have a choice & sometimes things in life don't always pan out in accordance with one's plans. I just feel blessed to have that major part of my life behind me now. I am so glad that I am not independent. That whole line is just a lie. I love being inextricably linked to a bunch of other humans, after all, all that counts at the end of the day is if you have loved, and I sure have!

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Scrap Room Makeover (A work in Progress)

I'm always on the lookout for anything cute to add to my scrappy room. It's MY place, where I can choose the decor 100%, without having to take anyone else's needs or likes into consideration. Obviously most of what I have in there is practical & utilitarian but I like to add a touch of whimsy here & there. Recently I found a very cool heart-design lampshade & a sweet little satin cushion. Now I am on the hunt for the perfect lamp base!

At Mr. Price Kids I found these cool wall stickers. They peel off really easily & can be restuck so perfect if you live in a rented house like I do at the moment. The bee & the butterfly are from the Baby section & are made of felt & flat at the back but stuffed/padded at the front, for a slightly 3D effect. I make a point of popping into Mr. Price & Mr. Price Kids once every 4-6 weeks, as they seem to get new stock fairly regularly & the cuties sell out the quickest!

I found this Heart Picture at Mr. Price (Gateway). The hearts are plastic 3D ones & the frame is deep to allow for that. Of course, you can make something like this yourself, but this actually worked out cheaper than buying the frame alone so sometimes (sadly) it's actually more cost effective NOT to make it yourself. As time is at a premium for most of us don't feel guilty buying something eye-catching & effective if it works out more economical than crafting it yourself!

The above boxes I found at "Home, etc" at Gateway. They were relatively inexpensive (R35 I think) and come flat & you fold & popper them up yourself (which is quite fun actually!). I am currently using them to store various bits & pieces (they are A5 size) & each family member has one, where I put their memorabilia (providing it is not too big). If I'm doing a layout on an event where I remember there being an invitation, for example, I grab the box & look through it to see if there is anything relevant that I can add to my layout.

These butterflies & dragonflies were hand-made (not by me...) Painted & glittered then cut out of acetate. I've had them for years & never got to using them on a layout as they are a bit big so I've stuck them down the side of my window for now (using Prestik/Blue-tack).

I bought a little bookshelf at Game in December (the sample again so I got out of constructing it myself as so much furniture here comes flat-packed). I use it to store my Scrapbooking books & magazines in. I display a few cute things to the top of it. In another post I will show you all my little goodies close-up. I love the retro shape of the lime green clock (got that at the Crazy Store-our Dollar Store equivalent). I have 3 rubber duckies on the right & two fluffy ones on the left & 4 cute cupcakes, all of which have removable lids so are handy for storage too!

Lastly, this is my version of a chandelier! I replaced the light fitting with a 3 point spot (previously there was only one spotlight so only the area it was focused on illuminated at night - not very practical). As we are renting there is no point investing in anything better for now, so I simply bought some table-cloth weights & attached them. There is a bit of a sparkle & a teeny shimmer so that's as good as it gets for now!

I seem to be forever sorting out my scrap space but there always seems like more to do! Even my storage solutions are ever-changing but, hopefully, I am always going forward!

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

What Helen wants...

This is a bit of fun that is going on around Blogland at the moment. I got the idea from Heidi & pinched it! All you need to do is type What (insert your name) wants into Google & you will then be thoroughly amused for the next half hour with a list of (very) random responses. Give it a go...it's certainly not something I have EVER thought of doing!!! Copy down the results then put your comments in brackets next to them for a bit of a laugh;-D
1) Helen needs your immediate attention. (Isn’t that always the case?!?

2) Helen needs to write more. (Please no...)

3) Helen needs to change her life and quickly. (oh puleeeeeeeeze – where dya think I’ll get the energy to do that, huh?!)

4) Helen needs to find some soldiers that were in the 4th Infantry Division, 1/11 C Company, at Fort Carson, CO from 1979-1980. (Well, that would be because....??????)

5) Helen needs your money. (E mail me for my bank account details, thanks)

6) Helen needs to reverse back into a parking space so the motor has to rotate in the opposite direction. (I’m too cold & too tired to work THAT one out, lol!)

7) Helen needs a mojito! (I’ve never had one but who am I to refuse???)

8) Helen needs to make sure none of her beloved penguins are gay. (okay, onto the next one...)

9) Helen needs a cat free environment. (are you on drugs Mr Google???!!!)

10) Helen needs the new owner at 325 Crestwood Terrace to shut up a minute. (I could quite easily insert a few other appropriate addresses)

11) Helen needs to learn to let go and delegate. (Are you crazy? Never in a million years...)

12) Helen wants to ban this. (Liar!)

13) Helen wants to go on a cruise with nice people. (well who wouldn’t?)

14) Helen wants to know what he's got in mind..(mmm, onto the next one, we’ll discuss that later...)

15) Helen Wants to Hear From You (don’t I always???!!!)

16) Helen wants to cook a potato for lunch. (Really???)

17) Helen wants to expose everything. (Perhaps after a serious quantity of mojitos...)

18) Helen wants to share her storytelling ability in such a way that it brings to life the stories for the listener and touches their hearts. (Aaaw, ‘tis true!)

19) Helen wants him to ditch the remote. (Hey, NOW we’re talkin’)

20) Helen wants to know how she’s going to die. (No she does not...)

21) Helen wants to get her own way. (what other way IS there??)

22) Helen wants some time alone. (not tooooooo much mind, just on the weekends, K?)

I am busy scrapbooking & have been for the last 3 days solid. I have added 12 layouts to my albums & am now drowning in the Making Memories Just Chilling line, designing a couple of double layouts to be taught at Reminisce in August. So this provided some light relief.
If you are going to take part please leave me a comment so that I can keep checking your blog for your results!
To all SA bloggers - enjoy the public holiday!

Friday, 12 June 2009

In need of a Holiday?

I have a friend here unable to use her Sun City Club Timeshare unit & looking to renting it out. Any interested parties can please e mail her direct @ thefamily@telkomsa.net

It is a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom (6 sleeper) unit at Sun City

Dates:- Friday 25 September - Friday 2 October

Price:- R13 000 for the week

A New Handbag!

I found the hand bag of my dreams last week! HOW cute IS this???!!!

Sadly the white one didn't last! Heidi was right! White was NOT the best colour! But it was cheap & it lasted long enough. That's all I ask for in a handbag. My attention span is FAR too short to actually WANT a bag that is going to last me longer than 6 months max!

My kids were well impressed. "Mum, you found a scrapbooking handbag!" Cami exclaimed, and so I have. Sassafrass Lass inspired I reckon...

It came with the weird rubber bear on the key chain (on the right) but I added the 2 on the left. I had a close-up shot too but Blogger seems to have just eaten it as it has disappeared! The blue rectangular thing is a mini-notebook. So sweet ;-D And Mr. Furry is a cute cat with a zip-up belly, perfect for holding one's parking change.

Before signing off I want to draw your attention to that psychedelic, multi-coloured zip! The fabric is also wipe-clean nylon-canvas & the inside is WHITE. Woo Hoo! No more scratching around in the black hole of Calcutta! As well as the lovely long zip-section on the outside there is also an identical zip-up section on the opposite side INSIDE. So my bag now looks perpetually tidy as I get to stuff all my unsorted stuff into the zip sections! Ingenious huh?!

Jokes aside, the bag is practical & a good size & with a brown base won't show the dirt quickly. Anyone local needing a new bag & despairing at the boring Woolworths black leather staples (not that they aren't classy - they just aren't my style or my price range) head over to "Bernice's Place" in Durban North Shopping Centre, at the top of Umhlanga Rocks Drive. They have recently started stocking handbags & have an awesome range at the mo. I could have come home with a few!

P.S. Kindly regurgitated by Blogger...

Oops...forgot about the little happy-cat-face key chain with the pink bead. In my opinion you can never have too many strange objects hanging from your handbag!

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Weekend Creative Layouts

Remember I told you on Monday that I did the Weekend Creative? 400 photos & not one of me?! I edited them down to 40 so that I can make 4 double layouts. I know I said I wasn't going to make an entire album of a weekend........but..........I got some cute photos............ so quick & easy double layouts is kind of a compromise, right?! It's been a while since I've shown you some up to date snaps of my family so here goes! Selecting 10% of 400 photos was the most difficult part of the task. Making the collages was not that simple this time as I kept having to readjust the sizes of the photos in order to get the "more important" ones to come up as the larger sizes.

I added the text on top of the collage, in Picasa. It gives you the choice of any of the fonts you have within your pc.

At first I added text to all the photos, but this confused the collage-maker no end & the text kept jumping to different positions or disappearing altogether.

This got tiresome as you can imagine, & there seemed like no solution, so I got rid of the text altogether.

Then I saw that it was possible to add text to the actual collage once it was made. THIS is the way to go! Don't forget - it'll save you hours of frustration.

Once I was down to my 40 photos I selected & dragged them into the correct order, according to the collages they were grouped in. I played around with quantities but anything over 5 photos per collage compromised the sizing too much for my liking.

As for the wording, use whatever words you like, that are, of course, appropriate to the subject. Alliteration works well (same sound at the beginning of each word) so I ended up with a lot of it.

Ever thought of photographing the monitor (PC screen) & the TV? Why not??? I snap away at it every so often on my trips past it & collaging your images will give you an overview of what you/your family are currently enjoying.

Photos don't always have to include a person/creature. I read somewhere years ago that a photo should always have a subject in the foreground. Maybe that was then, but this is now (I hear a Human League song coming on...) & I disagree, especially as these days you can add text. These happy snaps could easily have been edited out of the mix but, you know what? They actually epitomise the season right now, & I'm glad I kept them in. Why not play around in your photo-editing program & see what you come up with? It's too cold to scrap & this is as digi as it gets for me right now!

Unfortunately I never seem to be able to afford to buy Photoshop so Picasa is as good as it gets for me right now. You can download it for FREE & teach yourself. It is pretty straightforward - the more time you spend in it the more you learn. If I can do it so can you!

Layout 39 (Little Shop of Sketches)

I still have layouts 37 & 38 to post to my blog, but, in keeping with my scrapbooking policy of keeping current, here is layout 39! I will show you layout 37 & 38 sometime soon I promise, although of course you can find them here already! Why not drop in at Little Shop of Sketches anyway, take a peek at all the layouts... the new ones should be up & you can view the 5 other designers' layouts too, aswell as our Guest Designer of the Month over there aswell. Why not leave a comment & give Tanya Leigh some encouragement? She is a very talented sketch designer after all . Let her know if her site inspires you & if you download the sketches & use them as your launching pad at home. It's always good to get some feedback.

I print my photos out as soon as I can after uploading to my pc & editing. I do this because I want to be able to see, in real-life, visually, exactly how many photos I have to scrapbook, and I like to be able to enjoy them as soon as possible & look through them, handle them & have a choice as to what I am going to scrap, depending on the type of layout I feel like creating. People often ask me how I can print out my photos before I know what my layout is going to look like. I don't believe in making photographs "fit" a layout. It needs to work the other way around. A layout must "fit" the photographs & can often be adapted to do so (if you are using a kit, attending a class or following a sketch). My interpretation of the sketch is a perfect example. Here I rotated the sketch to suit the enlarged photo I had already printed.

I only had 2 other small photos of the same shoot so used these in place of the 5 little ones on the sketch. Instead of the 4 side strips, I only used 2, but I fancied them up a little. One I tore. This technique will never go out of fashion. It always works with distressed-type layouts & is forever suitable on masculine ones. Tear towards you so that the white core shows & keep your fingers close to the tear in order to tear in one continuous strip. This avoids peaks, which look more like the rough sea than a natural tear! The next strip I cut from the diamond paper & followed the shape of the paper, around the diagonal lines & dots that intersected them. When buying patterned paper always look for ones where you can cut around the elements. It makes for added interest as well as cheap embellishing! Both papers are from the December 2008 CDkit.

I used dark brown Bazzill as my backing paper (I think it's called Java...) & printed my photos with a white border, then cut it down to very narrow. Now that white is such a fashionable scrapbooking colour it makes sense to print your photos with a white border & save on matting costs! I used some black & white Basic Grey rub-ons for a change (having just sorted out my rub-on case & realised just how much was in there,lol!), some old Making Memories wide ribbon trim, aswell as some MM crochet braid - I cut off the edges & inked & frayed it to make it look tatty! - a Heidi Swapp clock (slightly raised with pop dots) & Journalling spot (cut in half & bumped up with foamcore), plus an Around the Block arrow brad (look closely at the clock & you will see it on top) & 2 Making Memories word brads (under the title & on the bottom left of the layout) from last year's lines. I also used a 7 Gypsies tag (torn into 3 pieces) for under the title, under the clock on the bottom left & on the bottom right. (When you buy embellishments you don't have to use them all in one piece!)

I crumpled the tag (tightly in my fist) then flattened it out & distress inked it with dark brown, chestnut roan & olive green (my 3 current favourite cats eye inks). I also used a mini-calendar monthly sheet torn from a freebie calendar I was given by "Expensive That" at Christmas, and tore a narrow strip of the top of some Jenni Bowlin stickers (from the packaging area not the actual sticker area) & used that at the bottom of the tag (under the title) to draw attention to it. Often scrapbooking packaging is as nice as the product itself so save it & see how you can utilise it on your layouts! I combined black & brown stickers for my title & the number "13" (Jack's age at the time) - Black are Making Memories glitter alphas & brown are Carolee's Creations tiny ledger alphas.

I entitled my layout "A penny for your thoughts" as I caught Jack in one of his pensive moods. I used dandylion flower rub-ons (2 black at the top & 2 white at the bottom) as these symbolize dreams/wishes. I love my boy. He is growing up so handsome!