Monday, June 26, 2017

Could It Be?

A Scrapbooking Post?

This past January, I went on a scrapbook weekend at a hotel only about fifteen minutes from my house. A local scrapbook store used to host what they called The Girlfriend Getaway a few times a year and some friends and I started making it an annual tradition. When the scrapbook store closed, two of the owners thankfully continued to run the event.

Of course an ice storm was predicted for that Friday and throughout the weekend. But since it wasn't too bad that morning, Mike offered to drive me there in his truck. He knows how much this little getaway means to me. :)
And I'm so glad I was able to go because I was able to start working on a mini album telling the story about living in Miami last summer.

I am breaking it into two 6x8  Daily Flash albums by October Afternoon using a combination of pocket pages and regular scrapbook layout pages. So there will be one album for each month we were down there. The one I finally finished this weekend with the June photos has 40 pages in it which makes it pretty full. And I am thinking there will be just as many pages if not a few more for July!



This is a photo of the title page I took at the crop. A friend of mine wanted me to post a picture of it on Facebook and I had to tape it to the table to get a photo that didn't have a big glare from the lights.
This is another set of pages towards the beginning of the album. I'm trying to highlight the most important moments and memories we don't want to forget about our stay down there. For our first meal we had takeout pizza from a place not too far from the apartment that became a Friday night favorite. And that pool! It was one of my favorite spots in the whole apartment complex.
This is one of my favorite regular pages from the June album. On the night we arrived, Mike drove the kids over to the beach for a quick look so I could get some of our stuff unpacked and he snapped this great shot!

And here are a few more pages I created that weekend to give you a feel for the overall look.
Definitely had to include some of Evan's fishing stories.
 And here are just some more of the day to day things we did.

I also want to add that I finished a little over the first half of this June album back in January. And then this past Saturday, I went to a 12 hour scrapbook event with friends and was able to complete the rest.
I picked up where I had left off with Father's Day.
And there is that Serenity Pool again. Have I mentioned how much I loved it? ;)
I also wanted to mention how the kids and I made a list of places to visit to keep us busy while Mike worked. So that is the page on the right, which explains how we ended up at he Seaquarium.

As you can see, I'm not sharing all forty pages. Just a glimpse, but hopefully enough to get the idea of how I designed it.
Now that I have completed June, I'm anxious to get started on July because it has some of my favorite photos like our trip to the Everglades and Evan finally catching his bull shark.

I'll be sure to share a few pages when it's done!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Weekend Recap

My husband has to travel a great deal for work often having to set up a "home base" a few days out of the week wherever his current project exists.

Last summer we were lucky enough to join him in Miami while he was working down there.
This summer won't be quite the same since he is working in Iowa. Definitely a different vibe. But one of the fun parts of having him "live" in other cities, states and even countries (hello, Canada!) is getting to explore and learn about a new place.

This past weekend the kids and I made our first trip up to see him since he had to work on Saturday. And with it being Father's Day weekend, we didn't want him hanging out alone on his special day.

Our first morning there, we researched where the closest donut shop was and found one not too far away. Honestly though, I think it was the only one in town - lol.
Two thumbs up reviews from the kids. I am not a big donut eater, so I'll take their word for it.
After breakfast we headed out to explore. I usually like to Google "fun things to do with kids in...(whatever place we are)" Mike is always good about finding restaurants, but he doesn't usually have a lot of time to check out entertainment. His days are pretty long at work.


This trip we looked mainly for playgrounds, parks and good places Evan could fish. We found a pretty good park with a playground and then a campsite across the road with a lake. The kids both actually fished for a bit.

And then Erin and I killed some time being silly while we waited for Evan to finish up.
That night Mike grilled burgers and then we headed out to an ice cream place I had found on the internet that proclaimed it was the best ice cream around.
Erin thought it was ok, but Mike and Evan were kind of meh about it. I'm not a big ice cream eater so once again I took their word for it - lol.
On Saturday, the kids and I drove out to the job site to visit Mike and take him to lunch. We couldn't do much there because of safety regulations besides visit the trailer. But we always like to see where he is working and learn about the projects. And I think he just likes us coming by and being there.
That night we watched a movie and had pizza for dinner. I'm happy to say there is a pretty decent pizza place up there.
Sunday was Father's Day, and the kids decided to follow a theme by giving him presents of his favorite Star Wars character. Evan created this pencil drawing for him to display in his office.
And I helped Erin go and get this fun bear from Build a  Bear. It is one of her favorite stores and she loved putting this bear together for him including music and sound effects! She also made him a photo book mostly on her own. The only thing I did was help her with the ribbon binding. :)

So glad we could be with him on Father's Day!
And for our first trip up there it was pretty successful!

Monday, June 12, 2017

We Love the Music

Mike and I love to go to concerts together!
We go as much as we can and for me sometimes the smaller the venue, the better!
I like being up close to my bands.
Like when we saw Elle King at The Old Rock House here in town. That is definitely a small venue and we were right in front of the stage.
And this pic is from a road trip we took up to Milwaukee to see El Vy at the Turner Ballroom. We had to literally drive through a snowstorm to get home the next day, but it was worth it!
This pic of course is U2 here in St. Louis in 2011. Not a small venue, but up close to them is always good. :)

In fact, I have a running list I keep of all the bands Mike and I have seen together including the opening acts.
The very first concert we ever went to together was before we were even dating! We saw Weezer and the band Live at the American Theater, which is no longer around. So that show will always hold a special place in my heart because it was our first concert together.

A few other favorites are (not counting U2 of course):

Radiohead
Arctic Monkeys
Alabama Shakes
The National
Alt J
Jane's Addiction
Garbage
No Doubt
Weezer
Portugal The Man
The Black Keys
Awolnation

That's just a small number. We have seen 50+ bands together over the years!
(Elle King)

 (Awolnation)
(Alabama Shakes)
(The Sheep Dogs)

(And U2 once again in Chicago this month)

We actually saw Portugal the Man and Electric Guest last night at another favorite venue - The Pageant but the lighting was so bad we couldn't get a good photo at all. 

And now we are looking forward to seeing U2 again in the fall here in St. Louis! Our General Admission tickets are bought and now we just have to wait.

Monday, June 5, 2017

The Road to U2 Joshua Tree 2017

In the fall of 1987, I was a Junior in high school. A friend of mine had an extra ticket to see U2 on their Joshua Tree tour at the old Arena and I decided to go along. Another brief friendship with a boy at the end of my Sophmore year, had introduced me to U2's music so I figured it would be a good show.

Little did I know that it would be a concert that would literally change my life! If there is one thing I know about U2, they really know how to put on a live show. Bono is the ultimate performer when it comes to engaging the crowd. By the end of the show I was a fan for life. The whole crowd stood there singing the lyrics "How long to sing this song?" of their final song from "40" long after the band had left the stage, and they finally had to turn the lights up and blast music from the sound system to get us all to leave. I knew in that moment, singing along that I had found a band that I would always love.

And I have continued to love them throughout the years.
Achtung Baby came out when I was in college and it was different from Joshua Tree in so many ways but amazing. And then Zooropa was out not too long after which has one of my all time favorite songs "Stay". I am still kicking myself to this day that my boyfriend at the time and I did not see them on that tour, (one of their biggest ever) due to our "budget".

All of our friends pretty much loved U2 and one of those friends was Mike. I think he was a bigger fan than even I was if that's possible. And we really connected over their music. It was only one of the many things really that drew us together. But our love for U2 was a big one. We even danced to their version of "Unchained Melody" at our wedding for our first dance.

Two weeks after we were married, we saw U2 on tour for POP and we were right next to the smaller stage so were pretty close to the band for a good part of the show. It was the first time I had been that close and I loved it!

As the years passed, every time U2 went on tour, we had to go to at least two or three different places besides here in St. Louis to see them. Kansas City, Chicago, Vegas, and even Dublin Ireland which was on our bucket list. Mike has also seen them in Toronto, Seattle and Nashville.
 (Dublin Ireland)

Two of the concerts (the one in Vegas and one here is St. Louis) I was pregnant with Evan. We always like to joke that he is such a big U2 fan because he heard them in utero. :)
In Fall of 2009, we went back to Chicago to see them, but this time Evan went with us for his first real U2 concert ever.

 



The best concert so far though was here in St. Louis in 2011 on their 360 tour when we were right in the front of the stage.

This close to the Edge and the rest of the band when they came to his side. Right there in front of us! Evan was at this show too. And I know I've shared this photo Mike took before, but I love it because the Edge was looking right at Evan and smiling at his enthusiasm. It was awesome!

With their latest tour "Songs of Innocence" they didn't come to St. Louis, so once again we drove up to Chicago. We were only able to get two GA tickets so I let Evan take it to be down on the floor with Mike and I sat way up at the top. It was worth it though and still a good show. I love that Mike and Evan had that experience together!

And now thirty years later - they are back on tour for Joshua Tree. Mike missed it the first time around. And I missed out on Zoo Station. So we say we are even, although he likes to tease me that his show was bigger which I can't disagree.

But this time, the four of us went. The whole family. Erin didn't want to miss out and so she went to her first U2 show ever. It was Evan's fourth. Mike and I have actually lost count. I am sure we could figure it out, but let's just say 15+ since 1987 for me.
Just too hard to get a good photo of the four of us, and like I said not wanting to share too many recent private photos. But this one gives you an idea.

I love when the crowd looks like stars in the sky.

The show opened with four oldies - Sunday Bloody Sunday, New Year's Day, Bad and Pride
And the Joshua Tree portion of the show did not disappoint for me. From the moment Streets started to the end with Mothers of the Disappeared. Edge rocked on Exit and In God's Country has special meaning for Mike and I from a time we listened to Joshua Tree on an old cassette as we drove through Montana and Idaho on a trip to see friends right before we were married.
But surprisingly, I absolutely loved when they played Beautiful Day and Elevation. This photo was taken during Beautiful Day and the lighting was fantastic. Just beautiful! Mike got a fun video of me, himself and Evan singing the lyrics together, but I won't share that here. ;)
Elevation? Once again the Edge rocked and I found myself singing and jumping along. It was probably my next favorite part of the show this time.

Being so far from the stage was hard at first. We are usually down in that crowd as close as we can possibly get. This time around with Erin though it wouldn't have worked. And frankly, looking at the photo it makes me kind of glad we weren't down there. That is a lot of people!

U2 has meant a lot to me through the years. They have been a connection between Mike and I. They have been a connection we have with our son. And so many times their lyrics and music have spoken to me. I have many friends who feel the same way, and I have connected with U2 fans all over the country and world. And then there are the people who just can't stand them and love to tell me how much Bono sucks. But really, love or hate them, they are a popular band. And I love them!

Friday, June 2, 2017

Evolution of a Blog



I started my original blog titled "A Beautiful World" in September of 2005. And for several years it was an online journal of sorts for me. I still love to go back and read all of my old posts because some of the stories I have actually forgotten over time and they are now on there as a reminder. One of my favorite memories is the trip to Ireland Mike and I made in July of 2009. I actually told the story in several blog posts because I had so many photos I wanted to share. And reading through my thoughts at the time of the trip makes me realize how important it is to get my stories and memories written down in some form. I guarantee you that I would not have remembered half the stuff I had written if I had not kept a journal on the trip and then transferred it to my blog.

In December of 2009 though, I decided to make that blog private. I was wanting my personal life and family to not be so public. I was more into the scrapbook design team scene and had more of an audience. So I started this blog, "The Scrapbook Treehouse" to showcase my scrapbook pages and assignments, because most design teams required members to have a blog.

For a little over five years, I wrote several posts a week taking blog breaks here and there. But in February of 2015, I decided to take a pretty permanent break. I was burned out on all of it - design teams, blogging, being on line. It didn't bring me the same joy and happiness that it used to. And if truth be told, I was focusing more on my health. Suffering from depression and anxiety pretty badly in 2013 had really brought me down to an all time low and 2014 became a year of healing, fixing broken parts of my life and recovering. By 2015 I was in a much better place, but I had changed. My priorities had changed and my focus was my family and my health. I wasn't scrapbooking as much and so I didn't really have any projects to share. At that point, blogging just seemed like a chore and I didn't need more of those.

I have written a few blog posts here and there to check in, but never could get the enthusiasm to start blogging regularly again.
But as my son finished out his freshman year in high school last week, (yes, high school!) I realized how much I've missed keeping a journal of our lives. I've tried keeping a handwritten one and it never sticks. What I love about blogs is the ability to add photos and typing is so much easier and faster for me than writing.

So as a result of that and being inspired by Stephanie Howell, the writer of one of my favorite blogs, I am thinking about taking up blogging again. Even if it's just once a week to start.
I have started scrapbooking again so I may even have projects to share. I will still probably put more personal posts on my private blog, but hopefully I will have more to share here as well.


I guess we shall see if it sticks this time :)



Monday, March 13, 2017

Miami Summer of 2016

I never did come back and share photos from our time living in Miami last summer.
So here we go with a few of my favorite memories in no particular order...
Evan finally getting to catch a little bull shark!
The view of downtown Miami from our apartment complex.
Peaceful  mornings on the bay wall next to the path around the complex.
My family at the Everglades <3 p="">
 And just the two of us in the Everglades
Snorkeling and hanging at the beach every week.
Feeling more relaxed and happy than I was back in STL. This was taken on a small island in the middle of the bay that we kayaked to from our apartment.
From that same island kayaking expedition :)
My family on our Key Largo trip
 Beaches almost all to ourselves on weekday mornings
The Serenity Pool at our apartment

My family surprising me with a birthday party <3 p="">
The view from our balcony
These are just a few great memories.
I will admit it.
We were spoiled last summer.
It was relaxing, amazing and fun.
And I don't take it for granted.
In fact, I am a little homesick for it at times.
No stress. No worries. And lots of family time. :)
It was a summer we will never forget!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Blog Your Heart - August 2016

I had to come out of blog hibernation to join in once again with a Stephanie Howell Blog Your Heart post. I have been thinking about doing a blog post with photos from our summer cause it was a big and pretty exciting one. But I think I will kick off my return (however temporary) to blogging with this.

I was literally truly thinking the other night that I really liked doing the blog your heart posts and kind of missed them because it seemed to have been awhile. Then today I looked at Stephanie's blog, and there it was. A challenge for August. :)

Blog Your Heart is just a post where you talk about what is on your mind and in your heart. Just let it out!

So here it goes. What is on my mind and in my heart most right now?

1. I have a son in high school. High school! How is that possible that my 14 year old son is in high school? It seems like just yesterday, he was this cute little guy off to kindergarten
 (no 1st day of school photo for high school though. He didn't allow it)
And now he has entered the world of high school. It's mind blowing to me. And he has embraced it! Two days in of classes (not counting a few days of orientation) and he loves it. I am so happy for him and know he picked the right school because he just seems so comfortable there. That's all a parent can ask for right?

I may have cried a little as I drove away the first day of orientation, with Erin in the back going,  "it's ok to cry mom. It's a big step." I had to laugh at hearing that little bit of wisdom coming from my nine year old daughter.

2. Which brings me to the next mind blowing thing.
 (Photo taken on her birthday)
She is nine! Could someone please tell me how to slow things down a bit? She loves her dolls and babies still. Loves to dance and do gymnastics. She is obsessed with Shopkins and all things collectible. And thankfully, really loves to still hang out with me


We have a lot of fun together, and she never ceases to amaze me. But sometimes I feel this overwhelming responsibility as her mom that I need to get everything just right and be the perfect mom. I know there is no such thing as perfection, but I feel I have only one chance to get this right. To be a good role model for her in a time where it feels like there aren't many good role models in society is so daunting. 
But I just keep trying to be the best mom I can be for my kids. Not perfect but doing my best. :)

3. And lastly, we had a great summer! I want to post about it more another day because I have a lot to share. I will say having a husband who travels a lot for work can be extremely hard and extremely rewarding at the same time. Our year started out with Mike living in Miami working on a project only home every other weekend. I'm not going to lie. It really sucked sometimes. We miss him when he's gone and I feel so tired and overwhelmed sometimes. Thank goodness for my village of family and good friends who help out though. They keep me sane for sure!
(view from by our apartment)

But on the positive side, when school got out the kids and I packed up and drove down to Miami to spend the summer with Mike. He still had to work a lot, but he was home in the apartment every night! We were able to see him every day even if it was only for an hour or two. We swam and went to the beach and the Everglades and so many places. We made new friends and learned a lot about our temporary home. It was a great experience for our whole family.

 (our family in the Everglades)
I am so glad we had that time together this summer. It wasn't always easy, but getting to spend more time as a family was so worth it! With Evan starting high school, I feel like our time together as a family of four is so fleeting. What happens when he goes to college?? But I'm getting ahead of myself as I'm prone to do. I need to focus on the now. :)

And right now is all we need.