Eyes on your own paper, y’all

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My passion for Project Life is no secret. So I’m kind of bummed to hear about people being intimidated to start something so awesome and designed to be simple because of how other people choose to approach the project.

I’ve noticed my tendency to do this when I’m clicking around blogs. First, I’m like: “Oh! That is so cool. I love how it looks.” Then: “Wow. Everyone’s blogs are so sophisticated looking and I can’t figure out how to change my banner!”  "These picture are amazing!” And finally: “I’m such a hack. I suck.”

Except that I totally don’t suck. Not at everything anyway. I’m a writer not a designer. I like to learn more about designing and keep up with the technology that allows me to share my writing and participate in this Project Life community in a visually appealing way. But it’s not my priority. So I’ll get there when I get there. Or I won’t. No worries either way. I don’t come by this attitude naturally. At a young age I learned to compare myself to others and catalogue where I didn’t measure up and  then use that as as evidence of my unworthiness.

That type of chronic thinking landed me on a therapist’s couch. Luckily. Luckily I realized there has got to be a better way to live this one, short, precious life than by going around counting the ways I suck.

I share this not because it’s comfortable but because I know I am so not alone on that journey. So many are told we need to “get more confidence.” But they don’t sell that at Walgreens. You get  confidence by earning it –  from, get a load of this, your own self!!! Because until you have your own approval, no one else’s will be enough. I promise this is true. Deep down, you know it’s true too.

{Yes this all ties in with the self-help series I’m working on, more on that soon!}

One step toward increasing your own self-worth is to DO the things you love. Even if, especially if, you don’t think you’ll do it as well as anyone else. Think of it as your opportunity to impress your own self. And as practice for giving the finger to the part of you that says you can’t.

Project Life may not be for you. Plenty of people just aren’t into documenting life. BUT if this project calls to you, you know in that inner desire that bubbles with excitement at the possibility of participating … you can totally do it your own way.

I think I’m sensitive to this because it’s kind of what happened to my love of scrapbooking. I loved scrapbooking when I did it my own way, ignorant that there was an “industry” and keeping it simple, pictures, stories, scraps of life (ticket stubs, cards, etc.) I didn’t know, or care, if I had a style. Or how my style, or lack of it, measured up to others. Because I didn’t care. I was having fun with it.

And then … I got excited about the Scrapbooking Industry. There were stores, magazines, websites … I loved all of it. Until I realized that instead of scrapbooking anymore, I had become a hoarder of supplies and my pictures stayed in boxes and on multiple unorganized files on my computer labeled “new folder.” Why? I think I felt like I wasn’t “doing it right.”

I didn’t know it at the time as it was a gradual shift from actively engaging in my passion to sitting on the sidelines, watching longingly as others played Varsity.

The pages and projects I was looking to for inspiration seemed so complicated. So embellished. So not me. If that was scrapbooking, I wasn’t a real scrapbooker.

Then I discovered and fell in online love with the work, mission and passion of Stacy Julian, Ali Edwards and Becky Higgins. For me, they lead me back home to what matters to me: the stories, the passion for  sharing them, the joy in creating. They were like the coaches who insist everyone takes a turn at bat because everyone has something to offer, their own way in their own time.

So if these inspiring women are the industry coaches, let’s pretend I’m the teacher and I have this one thing to say:

Eyes on your own paper, y’all!



Wrapping up Project 365


I have so much I want to say about this awesome project but only a few minutes to type this up so let me just say it’s been such a blessing to have this on-going project in my life that I’m signing up to do it again next year. As in starting tomorrow.

Before you’re all “Damn! She really took a picture a day and journaled about it? Every single day?” I have to tell you something.

Last night I ordered 333 pictures from Shutterfly. Because a lot of my weeks look like this:


But, despite two computer crashes where I lost my data (why no, no I didn’t have things backed up) I’ve managed to get the majority of our days tucked into two albums. I love them. In the event of a fire I’ll make sure the kids, dog, my journals and these two books are out of the house.


Seriously I keep the journals and these books by the window on purpose  and a fire ladder for the boys to get out safely. oh, hello Tangent.

Some of you have asked to see more of these pages in progress as well as the finished product – happy to do that. I will incorporate a few steps into my new process for approaching this project in 2012 to make sure that happens.

Two quick reasons I love this project:


One – I was just flipping through the year and can't believe all that's happened, the first page has Jake taking his first steps. And now, he runs with a football tucked under his arm!


Two – Scrapbooking in this snapshot-scraps-scribble some notes style actually has me wanting to scrapbook again! These layouts, simple, simple as they are would still be just ideas in my head instead of done and displayed to share. The boys love looking at these pages with me. note to self: on the back of this snuggle fest page include details/times/snapshots of bedtime routine.

Okay, three reasons – perspective people. Yesterday I was running through the Coscto parking lot pushing the loaded shopping cart with both boys, so like 75 pounds, during a torrential downpour and someone called out: “You’ve got your hands full!” I returned: “Yeah! So is my heart!”



Even if I  never go back and finish the 2011 albums, here is a record of the days of our lives. The ordinary, every day, wonderful, messy, complicated, creative, lives we were blessed with. 

This is our story. These are the snapshots of the blur that is life with two little boys. A blur captured on camera and in words to bring these days into focus someday when we look into life’s rear-view mirror.

For now, looking forward …

Happy New Year!!!

Remember Project 365?



Remember how enthusiastic I was about Project 365 (or Project Life as many call it)? I still am. Even though I am approximately 93 days behind. Instead of waiting to catch up on those 93 days I’m just jumping back in where I’m at, so here is Monday’s picture of the day and journaling – just a little taste of life around here. The kind of thing that would be easy to forget one day.

I was driving the boys home from one of our favorite parks, the Airplane Park (thank you Emily) and saw a little pond with a bunch of ducks on the edge of it. I was flooded with memories from my childhood I’d long forgotten: feeding ducks at Wright’s Park. Which made me remember my mom and dad’s restaurant Le Snack … which brought back all kinds of memories. Stuff I want to write down before I re-forget. But I suppose there’s something kind of cool about having these flashbacks of memories.

Life in progress

Growing up I wanted to be like Jane Polly, and later Oprah. I mean I really, really wanted to be a news anchor and have my own talk show. I keep waiting for the day that dream seems silly and dies … but instead it gets stronger and more vivid.

I talked myself out of pursuing that goal professionally for two reasons 1) I knew I’d have to get up super early. Pre-kids I considered 8 a.m. to be waking up very early and dropped classes scheduled before 9 as a matter of course. And 2) I learned that I wouldn’t be able to write my own material and that was more important to me. Now I’m not sure that was even true!

Flash forward … As I’ve mentioned, I’m working my way through a “rough patch” and am identifying areas of personal responsibility and how much I truly am in control of my own happiness.

That’s why I love Becky Higgins’ motto: “Cultivate a good life and record it.”

First because it is absolutely our right (and responsibility) to cultivate our own good and secondly, documenting life as we live it is something I am most passionate about.

Because my next goal is to teach journaling classes and because I still dream of having my own talk show … welcome to my homegrown version of Nathalie’s Notes Live!


p.s. Mom, I’ll clean up in here and tour the studio very soon. Dad, I know the quality sort of stinks and will keep learning! (Mam tam “Rec”!”)



~ Write as you go, learn as you live.

{What’s working: Martha’s magic cleaner}



First of all, can you believe Jake is old enough to walk to school to pick up his brother?!

Secondly – where did March go? I meant to post this on Wednesday. During my forced hiatus from my Google Machine, I had to turn to other resources … I needed a homemade cleaner that I wouldn’t worry if my kids found in our cabinet childproofed with the rubber band from a bunch of asparagus. I flipped through my Martha Stewart homemaking handbook and found this:

Fill a spray bottle with:

2 cups water + 2 Tablespoons liquid dish detergent = magic

Really. Magic.

Seriously magic in the sense that it cleans everything and magic in the sense that I actually liked cleaning for awhile. It got old again, but still …

Sam colored on the carpet – sort of an accident in that he colored off the page but he shouldn’t have had the page on the carpet … where was I? Slamming a rum and Coke in the bathroom. Just kidding. I was changing Jake upstairs. So I discovered the multi-colored carpet and in my calm, Zen Mama fashion got all angry and said:

“You better pray to God this comes out of the carpet!”

Sam took me literally and got on his little knees, folded his little hands, closed his eyes and said:

“God, we have a problem. Mama is maaaaad.” I used the magic cleaner and it was coming out.

“It’s working! Keep praying.”

Sam grinned, “Thank you God.”


Project Life note … While I wish I’d thought of this sooner I’m not going to let all-or-nothing thinking get in the way … I snapped a picture of Sam’s school bucket from the top view this morning so I see his snacks and show and tell. Every month, or so, I’d like to make a free collage at Photility to include in this book – and maybe for his school album. (The theoretical one). It'd be fun to see what he picked to take each week – even if it’s the same block week after week.


{Project 365: week 12}


week 12

Week 12, side 2

The scrapbooking community in general and with this project specifically there’s no such thing as “copying” or “stealing” ideas. The term is “scraplifting” and anyone’s allowed to do it … in fact, it’s encouraged. The only thing is that isn’t cool is not giving credit where it’s due – the sharing of ideas is widespread and some of the most simple things are inspiring. I saw a Netflix envelope in Amy’s book and commented on it, she said she saw it on Ali Edwards’ site … and now, it’s in mine. A little scrap of life. That envelope was for a Mater movie which Sam deemed “too scary” in the first few minutes. Now we have Weeds, Season 6, disk 2. FYI Smile

Some of your questions have been about process and what’s making this year work compared to the year of Project 180 sticky notes. I’ll get to those soon … for now I’ll say what’s working for me is a combination of routine and flexibility. I suppose that sounds contradictory but for me it’s been just right. That, by the way, has also become the key to my parenting and homemaking. Speaking of which … duty calls.

{Project 365: week 11}


Week 11 (2)

Week 11

Week 11, side 2

Almost caught up! Although, really this project is like laundry – there’s no such thing as catching up. It’s more like a constant work-in-progress. Truly, that’s part of the joy for me.

More of you are reading this than I realized … thank you for your comments and emails. It’s so fun to be in this together!

I’ve been planning to get another kit when I can scrap the cash together and was pretty sure I was getting the turquoise edition … until I saw my friend Karen’s amber one. Now … a dilemma (one I’m happy to ponder).

But first, I have to figure out how I’m going to somehow sum up a powerful 186-word book in 200 words.

Also – to those who care about my little journey through clutter rehab … things are a changin’ in the best of ways! I am almost down to my “box of shame” (which I should probably rename)* and my piles and folders full of notes of random writing things, story ideas, scenes, character notes, overheard bits of conversation … I’m not quite sure how I’m going to handle that yet. I did realize that one of the reasons I haven’t finished my book is I know I have bits and pieces of it in journals, on notes and in these piles … being this close to sorting through it all means I can overcome that recently discovered roadblock.

*Box of shame (new name ideas, anyone?) includes graduation announcements yet to respond to (circa 2007 and on), Christmas card that got returned to re-send, thank you notes for things long-forgotten, pictures I made copies for people and didn’t send but now forgot who it was for … as well as some more important, uh, financial details.

{Project Life–week 10}


Week 10

Week 10, side 2

I’m having fun with sepia and black and white pictures mixed into the book. I also tucked in a note to our babysitter because it’ll make me smile some day to remember the (very specific) instructions for putting our boys to bed.

Jake – one zebra, one bottle, froggie – turn on heater

Sam – 4 cars books, 2 giraffes, puppy, cold water with ice – turn on fan

Some of you wanted to see the journaling better – I think if you double click on the pictures you can get a closer view … if that doesn’t work let me know and I can post them but I don’t think most people care  as much about the day-to-day besides me and my mom.

{Project Life–week 9}


Week 9

Week 9, insert

Week 9, side 2

I’m on deadline for three things due on the same day so expect to see a few posts as I procrastinate.

Week 9 … my 35th birthday and a snow day … working on combining my everyday pictures and basic notes on life as we live it makes we want to actually start scrapbooking again, I think I’ve mentioned that. I get ideas like the huge, pink blanket Matt’s grandma made – Sam calls it the “sprinkle” blanket – was in another picture with Matt when he took a road trip around the country in what I thought was the world’s ugliest van … until I saw the one in our driveway … anyway, I thought that would be a cool page to show the evolution along Matt’s journey … maybe even find a picture of his Grandma Bernie to include. Those are the stories, huh?

And, of course, I adore this little snowman. It came home on a huge piece of paper so I cut it to size and since I love seeing Sam’s name written on his art I cut that out and stapled it to the top.

I totally get that 90% of you sweet readers do not care in the least about technique and details behind the scrapbooking part of me … but for the 10% who do … and for my own process, here they are anyway! For the rest of you, I’m nearly “caught up” and you’ll get a break from this Project Life stuff soon.

{Project 365: week 8}


Week 8

Week 8, side 2

I’m trying to get a mix of real life happening in this album so I decided to include the picture of sad Sam and Jake melting down because, well, mama said there’d be days like this!  There are a few pictures I love in week 8: the one of Jake “in the lead” during Team Hardy’s table racing time. (an hourly event around here!) I also love the picture of Sam and Ella hugging and the picture of Sam’s muddy boots and “outside cars” soaking before they’re allowed back in. Just little details that mean a lot these days but won’t when table racing is replaced by a less legal kind and the muddy boots are no longer a single-digit size.

This week is full of “inserts” which is one of my favorite things about this project. You can do this part, or not, but it’s a perfect place to tuck birthday cards, holiday art work from school,and random ephemera.

Week 8, insert

I stitched all of the boys’ valentine cards into a sheet … it took me awhile to figure out how and it’s not the prettiest thing I’ve ever seen but it makes me smile every single time I see it. I was really proud of it until Sam decided he wanted to look at his valentines again. Out of the pocket. He didn’t understand they were sewn in for good, nor did he appreciate my handiwork.

Week 8, insert 2

Week 8, insert (2)

A special pocket for the valentine’s from Sam’s Nana and Papa – a plain sheet protector cut to size and stitched closed.

week 8 insert

I adore preschool art!