Friday, December 28, 2012

Ugly Sketch 1-15 Project: 1

There is something triumphant in saying "I'm going to do this" (whatever this may be) and then (*gasp*) actually doing it.

Guess what? I actually did it.
(*gasp*)



<=== So this is the first sketch in the Ugly Sketch 1-15 Project.  

Pretty ugly, huh?  I prefer to think of it as...rough.
But who cares, right? Not like I'm getting graded or anything.
It's just a launching off point.  And frankly, I'm really pleased with where I landed, and I'm not going to lie - it was fun. There was nothing that was pulling me on this but me.  Not a supply list or a time line, just a self made sketch.  It was a blast.

I'm posting a little early.  Not quite certain what my New Year's plans are yet.  And it just doesn't seem to be a big deal to let the proverbial cat out of the bag a couple days early. 

And because it was so fun doing this one, I've already come up with the Ugly Sketch for the 15th (which may or may not be posted on the 15th, but hopefully somewhere close to the 15th):
First, let me just say how much I hate blogger: GAH! I hate blogger! I'd accuse it of being the least friendly user interface EVER, but that's just not true. Plus, it's flipping free, so I can't go exaggerating about it.  But I do not like it, Sam I am!

Ok, that said, there's the Ugly Sketch 1-15 for January 15th.  Do I have something in mind for it? Nope. Does that concern me? Not at all.  Will it be a masterpiece when I'm done with it? You bet your life it will be! ;)

Thanks for stopping by! I'll see you in a week or (more likely) two. ☺

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Ugly Sketch 1-15 Project

I've known for a long time that I love to scrapbook, but I don't because of a few factors.  Time is always a factor, for me and just about everyone I know.  It lacks urgency, and by that I mean it takes a backseat to everything else that is of higher priority or less "hard".  So schoolwork always trumps scrapbooking because it's higher up the priority food chain, but Real Housewives tends to win because watching t.v. requires less effort.  I really wish I had a t.v. in my scrap area.  Sigh...  And the last really big factor is: I'm overwhelmed.  I have too much stuff and I don't know where to begin.  Too many choices just leads me to paralysis.  Even when I'm really itching to scrap, I tend to sit down at my table and fuss around for an hour or two and then walk away because - with so many decisions to make, I hadn't gotten anywhere.

I've also known for a long time that scrapbooking (or papercrafting in general) adds a balance to my life that I really need.  Somehow playing with paper and the hum of my Silhouette allows me to shift focus from my inside shit storm to nothing but calm and pretty and happy memories.  And so when I'm "too busy" to scrapbook I miss it, and I'm probably a bit bitchier without it, too.

This morning I was playing with my phone. I was writing myself a note about some last minute Christmas items that I needed to address.  I've had the phone for a while, but the note feature is something that I haven't used much - it just hasn't seemed as intuitive as what I was used to.  But Shazam! It's actually pretty cool.

I'm getting to a point. Really.

Recently I've been questioning why I bother with this blog.  If I don't write regularly, it seems sort of pointless.  But then I realize how much enjoyment I get from scrolling through the pages. I like having a portable reference.  It's like a mobile, public picture diary.  I don't want to give it up, but it's not a high priority item.  What it needs, it occurred to me, is a project. A reason to post.

Hmmm.
Too many choices.
But wanting to scrap.
A note feature on the phone.
Needing a project.

Introducing (insert sad drum roll here): The Ugly Sketch 1-15 Project


See why I call it ugly? It's ug.ly. But that's ok. It also took about 30 seconds to do.  And if it were pretty it would have taken longer, and then I'd quit. And you don't need pretty for a sketch, right? It's just a launching off point.  

I have no photos in mind, no products or theme...But already I've made decisions.  It's 8.5x11.  It has two smaller photos.  It has some journaling.  But from there, I have wiggle room.  I like a little room for flexibility.

And the 1-15 part? I will post a layout on the first and fifteen of the month.  I'm not answering to anyone but me, but by saying this right now, I've made a commitment.  Now, granted, a commitment to myself is going to be the first one to be ditched if things get bad, but the hope is there.  And two layouts a month seems doable.  And because these aren't for others, it's not like they have to be masterpieces.  I'm excited to have a reason and a direction and not a whole lot of pressure.  I hope this will be fun.  Because dear sweet baby Jesus, I need a little fun right about now. 

Check back.  I'll have something for you on 1-1-13.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

100th 3rd

When I first moved to Ohio, several things baffled me.  I don't know why, but I've been thinking about it for a while now.  And I've been thinking that I'd really like to make a layout about some of the weird differences there are in the different places I've lived.  That thought is brewing.

Close to the top of the list will be Fifth Third Bank.  You don't have to be Math Girl to know that that just doesn't makes sense.  It took me a while to settle in, and since I'm not one to socialize it took me several months before I was finally able to ask someone about the bank's name without looking like a blithering idiot.  Turns out it came from the bank mergers of the Fifth National Bank of Cincinnati and the Third National Bank of Cincinnati.  I guess that makes sense, but 12½ years later it still makes me screw up my face when I drive past their branches.

So 100th 3rd?  Well, today is a semi big day around here.  This is my 100th post and the third anniversary of my blog.  I suppose that it's not really that big of a deal, but it is to me, sort of.  I started this blog when my life was in the midst of some big changes.  In the June of 2009 my ex-husband lots his job.  The economy was still in the throes of what no one wanted to label a recession.  He was unemployed for a total of 11 months.  In September he came to me and asked if I would move into his house with our kids so he could move in with his brother in Pennsylvania and work at his hedge fund company.  He had hopes that he could learn a new line of work, get out of the manufacturing industry and tread water until selling his house made more sense.  Naturally, the idea of getting to be the full time mom to my kids was something I jumped at. But the rest? Uh...no.  Live in my ex-husband's house? Weird. At best.  My nearly 100 mile daily round trip commute to a job that I didn't like? Expensive.  And heading into winter? With my crappy car? Dangerous. And little things like the fact that I had just signed a one year lease with my apartment complex and they wouldn't let me out.  And of course, there's also a relationship to consider.  How crappy a girlfriend are you when you say "Listen. Really dig you. But I'm gonna move into my ex-husband's house"?  As luck would have it, that may have been a mixed blessing for a number of reasons.  But that it is a whole other, really long, way too personal post. That's not going to happen.  But it has a happy ending, so the details aren't that important...

But I said yes and I moved. And I felt like a stranger with my kids for quite some time.  It's not that I didn't see them a lot when they lived with their dad, it's just that they had an entirely different routine at Dad's house than at Mom's apartment. And they were at "home" - I was the one in a strange land.  And dear God, did it feel strange.  Which is weird - it was filled with furniture and kitchenware and linens that I had purchased, but was no longer "mine." I felt like I was trespassing. I had to ask where things were, and I confined myself to my bedroom, the kitchen and the laundry room.

As luck would have it, I scored a new job, back in the camera industry - back where I felt comfortable and in my element.  It was closer to home - 20 miles away.  The boss was (is) fantastic. Accommodating, understanding, flexible.  I couldn't ask for a better work situation than what I have right now.  Lest I ever sound disgruntled, please know: I am not.  I feel lucky and blessed every day.  Oh please. Not every day....but most days. ;)

It took some time, everything settled into place.  I'd be lying if I said there weren't times that things still feel...weird.  Like, it's hard to explain this.  So a lot of time, I avoid talking about personal things with people who aren't already in "the know."  But on the whole, it's been wonderful.  I love that the kids are always HOME.  I leave on the weekends and spend time with Kerig, and Dad comes home - no more packing them up and disrupting their schedules.  I like cooking for them, and - oddly - doing their laundry and sending them to school in clothes that haven't been sitting crumpled in a laundry basket for a week.  I like over-seeing their homework, and even dishing out chores. I love being the mom, and I take that role seriously.  When I left, I asked their dad to keep them - he made more money, he had a 9 to 5, Monday thru Friday job. I didn't. It was in their best interest. But getting this chance to be with them has been a blessing.  For me, and I think, for them.

So this blog has seen me through a lot.  I started this shortly after I moved in his house. After the kids went to bed I'd be in my room.  Computer, internet, books...and still very bored.  I needed some kind of creative "thing" and I needed to give my head something to do.  I've been a fair weather friend, to be sure. But in my defense, it's been quite a ride. I've added more to my plate, and given my brain plenty to keep it occupied.  I've branched out in the house, and taken over the dining room and made it my scrap room.  But the blog has been a creative outlet, a way to share, a source of free therapy, a way to communicate my undying love for my Silhouette...

So...Happy Anniversary to me!

And because no blog post is complete without a picture, he's a REALLY old picture of Kerig and I.  Thanks, friend, for always being there for me, for graciously taking the back seat when necessary and being my rock. I think you're the best.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Snapshot of Today.

A post about absolutely nothing.

Gas: $3.14 (in Parma, but the average seems more like $3.30 in the area.)
Car: Nissan Rogue...Superblack.
Phone: Samsung Galaxy SIII.
Ringer: R. Kelly's Remix to Ignition.  Heard three times, including a wrong number at 12:38 am.
Alarm set for: 7:45
Commute: 25.4 miles/Half hour.
Work Day: 9:15-5:25, including teaching a Nikon class.
In-between: Calc homework: setting up and evaluating triple iterated integrals.
Listening to: NPR.  Election talk, Hurricane Sandy aftermath.  "On Taking Pictures" podcast.
Dinner: Brown Bag Burger (Voted best burger in Ohio by Kerig and Caroline)
Cost: $18.58
After dinner errand: Target for a light bulb for over the range.
Also: Pepperidge Farm Milano cookies with little bits of candy cane in the chocolate. Jury's still out.
Waiting for: Louis C.K. on Saturday Night Live
Fantasizing about: Having time to read a book without guilt.
Missing: My kid.
Wearing: big comfy Lakeland hoodie.
Weather: High: 44º, Low: 35º Grey, cloudy, occasional drizzle
Other points of note: 3 days til presidential election.  President Obama visited Mentor High School.
Picture:


















(no actual tongue contact made. Surprise.)

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

The manfriend said "You need to update your blog."
My response: "I know. But I'll just whine about school, and who wants to read that?"

Well, I'm going to update, and I'm going to address school, but I'm not going to whine about it. This time.  ;)

Things are...going.  Last week I had a doozy of a day.  I really bombed a quiz.  Like 10% bomb.  Ouch.  (Mind you, I'm not whining, just telling the story)  I handed in a nearly blank quiz sheet and spent the rest of the class silently wiping away tears of humiliation and stress and worry. After class I went home, cried some more (not so silently)(let's hear it for time and place appropriateness!) and then dug in.  Problem was, I had deprioritized that class to make room for a final in another.  I thought I understood a little, when it turns out I barely understood at all.  I was really scared that I had gotten myself so far behind that I was going to have a really difficult time catching up.  But here's what I like about me  (sometimes*): I decided to think about how I would help my kids in this situation, and then try to follow that advice. So while wallowing in my pity party and worrying that I'd never catch up, I decided that I was going to try to figure out what it was that I didn't understand.  If I could articulate what I didn't understand, at least I could walk into my professor's office with my head held high and say "I've tried to figure this out, but I can't make it click.  Would you mind explaining to me how to do xyz."  Because that's what I'd tell my kids to do.  (if in fact, their genius mother couldn't help them :P  ).  I spent the afternoon working homework problems, and getting one wrong after the next, but really paying attention to what it was that I was having issues with.  And then trying to think critically about it...instead of giving in to the urge to throw up my hands, give up, and take a nap.  And oh, how I love to take a nap!  Turns out that in trying to pinpoint what my issues were, I actually figured out what the heck I was doing wrong.  I decided that I would visit my professor the next morning anyway, and ask for clarification on a couple of more difficult problems.  It wouldn't hurt to have him shed some insight on those problems, and it certainly wouldn't hurt to show him "hey, I'm trying."  I spent a good portion of the weekend trying to get caught up entirely, and back to feeling good.  And Mother Nature/Sweet Baby Jesus were on my side, closing school on Tuesday (the next time that class met) due to the storm, which gave me a whole extra day to get right with calculus without piling on more stuff.  (Sometimes I think that's the hardest part - we move at a crazy fast pace, and if something doesn't 'click' into place right away, there's no pause before we move on to the next topic.)  So the purdy notecard is my "fresh start."  I'm making a new effort to take better notes, to make a card like that for each section we cover (to make homework easier, but also to help when exam time rolls around.)  And can I tell you? I have center of mass down cold.  See? I'm not whining.  This is my triumphant post about how a humbling experience turned into feeling all "Yay!" again. Yay!

This is a scrapbook/crafty/Silhouette-y/Cameo-y type of blog though, so I should also show:


Going back to my roots in uber-simplicity, and featuring American Crafts Pumkin Patch.  I have a couple of pictures from this day that I really love, and yet I haven't told the story about getting her ears pierced.  But this wasn't the time - this is just that smile... No cheese, not forced, not fake.  That's 100% real, honest, happy.  And that's all that needed to be said.  

I do have some other stuff in the wings. 
Like:
  And:


Oh! And I wanted to share one more thing.  I take my writing implements VERY seriously. I find something I like and I stick to it and I love it to death.  So I buy my Bic Round Stics by the case, and guard my GraphGear1000 by Pentel with my life. I like my Sharpies sharp and in every shade for notes to the kids and coworkers - they say "Hey, I'm in a fun color, but don't tell her you didn't see me!" And for my notecards (like above)  I am absolutely, positively head over heals in love with: 
Which can be found at Amazon: Staedtler Triplus Fineliner felt tip pens.  Love them. A lot.

And with that, I'm going to sign off.  I hope everyone is safe and dry! Thanks for stopping by!


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Hypocritical Cow!

Or holy cow, if you're not familiar with my auto-correct.

It's been a month since my last visit.  And because this is as close to a diary as I have, I'm going to address you, but talk about things that might only be important to me.

It's been a month.  This whole process is testing me.  Pushing me to my limits and challenging me to throw in the towel.  I thought the summer was hard.  Oh, dear GOD, was it.  So hard.  But somehow juggling 3 classes, 11 credits isn't much easier.  I have elevated time management to a religion.  Times like these feel like venial sins.  Forgivable, but still, these moments of unwisely used time mar the surface of hard work.  They make me think: "you aren't working as hard as you could be..."  Never mind I've traded working late for getting up early.  Never mind that I'm so fried that opening a book wouldn't actually do any good anyway. I'm not working: sin.   Ugh.  Sometimes that Catholic upbringing haunts you in ways that you never could have foreseen.

Right now I'm taking three classes.  Calc III. Linear Algebra. Statistics.  Statistics is online, and not...er...how should I say this? It's not a "real" math class.  For a math major in a 'real' school, statistics has a basis in Calculus.  It's a royal pain in the ass.  I took both Statistics and Probability as two classes the first time around. I remember hating them.  This time it's just statistics, and it's the version that psychology majors take. And nursing students and the like.  I'm not knocking what they do, because I can't do it, but it's not the calculus based class that I remember. And I'm thankful for that.  Although, I'm taking it online, and it's entirely self taught. Read the book, take the practice quizzes, take the test, post on forum.  It's time consuming.  And frankly, I'd be mortified to get anything less than an A in a class that isn't really a math class.  Which means I put even more time into it.  The upside is, the class is only 8 weeks long and we're on week 5.  The bonus upside is that I've actually completed all the work for week 5.  Three more to go, baby.

Calc III is easier than Calc II.

LOLOLOLOLOL

Calc III is NOT easier than Calc II, but Dr. Stitz isn't quite as hard as as Prof. Smolko.  And he cracks jokes.  On Tuesday he spent 5 minutes setting up the opportunity to say z-rho (the Greek letter).  There's something so stress relieving about laughing in class.  He gives these insanely hard take home problems but has office hours from noon to 2 every day.  I'm a Tuesday regular now.  He wrote a test that he thought would take us an hour. It took us 3.  I respect Prof Smolko, but it was almost as if he went out of his way not to connect with us.  Dr. Stitz likes us.  It's not easier, but it's different.  Challenging, but somehow doable because of the accessibility of the professor.  I'll be happy to cross it  off my to-do list, but I'm sort of enjoying the process, as well.

Linear Algebra is just going to be a mess.  After a fiasco and several hours on the phone with Notre Dame, at times being extremely strong yet diplomatic, I managed to un-enroll in Notre Dame's Linear Algebra and joined Lakeland's class.  By the time I got there, I'd missed three classes, but with a ton of work, I managed to catch up.  And somehow I still don't understand a damn thing. :P  I took this class at Immaculata and it was it my favorite class.  We studied it from a super practical perspective.  Yeah. They don't do that any more.  Now they go out of their way to be abstract. Yay! Only...not at all. I've actually discovered that MIT has a Linear Algebra class online.  Seriously.  I can watch an MIT professor teach Linear Algebra.  That's pretty friggen cool when you think about it.  Also, it's sort of lucky for my professor...since he sort of sucks. :P

So that's been the last month.  Lots and lots of reading and problem working and stress. Oh, dear sweet baby, the STRESS.

And I have this gig.  I'm supposed to be making kick ass layouts based on sketches for Cord Camera and Scrapbook Studio but that is suffering like crazy.  But I'll tell you what.  There was  a day a couple of weeks ago where I just couldn't take it anymore.  I had a little window of opportunity to use about two hours any way I saw fit.  Truly, I probably should have worked a couple of extra problems, but I had this very cool paper from Bella Blvd from their Birthday Boy collection.  And nothing makes more feisty than telling me what a line is to be used for.  What do you mean "Birthday BOY"?






























That there is a birthday page about a girl. And it works.  So there, Bella Blvd!
What really slays me about this page is the fact that it came together in the two hours I had allotted, and that included hemming and hawing on the font for "july" and some paper choices.  I love that everything from Bella Blvd works together seamlessly without that blah grrranimals feel.

And to my friend and DT coordinator, Stephanne: I hope I'm not stressing you out too badly. And THANK YOU so much for being as flexible as you've been.  You have no idea how much that means to me. You're the best.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Passions

ETA: It's come to my attention that if you're viewing this entry on Internet Explorer there's a pretty sizable gap between the double yellow line shot and the honey dipper shot below it.  That gap doesn't exist in Chrome or Firefox.  This is my formal invitation to you: C'mon over. Download Chrome.  All the cool kids are doing it.  You won't regret it, I promise.
Carry on.

Today I spent about an hour and a half of my day talking to a 70 year old woman who was dancing with the idea of buying a new lens.  Her kit lenses, she said, weren't sharp enough.  They didn't impress her.  She had spent a good deal of time doing research but admitting that she really didn't understand everything that she read, and she was still new to digital SLR photography. We talked for a long time, we unraveled her wants and her want-nots, we deciphered some lingo, we walked outside and took some pictures. She was so appreciative.  She said she had gotten so much from our time together.  She said she felt more relaxed and at ease talking to me than all the men she's been dealing with. Her words made me feel so good.  I love what I do, and if I can make another woman feel that taking cool pictures is within reach, and break down the language and principles so that they're less intimidating, then I feel successful and fulfilled.

I've been trying to push the shutter more.  I've been looking to SEE lately, not just looking to keep from bumping into things.  It's not as easy as you'd think.  Or maybe seeing is, but translating that into something compelling might be a different story.  But what fun it is to try.























This weekend the manfriend and I took a ride on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.  We rode from Independence to Akron and back up to Peninsula before getting off the train for lunch.  We waited for about ten minutes to get shots of the train pulling away from the station.  I love the trainman signalling up the tracks.  By the way, the railway is 100% volunteer based.  That's pretty cool.






















Note how the sign says "RESTAURANTS".  If one of the restaurants closes down, they're going to have to make a new sign.  (Get it? There's only two restaurants. Rim shot, please.)






















There's also a "Gallery" in Peninsula.  I'm not positive what constitutes a gallery, but there was lots of very cool stuff from local artisans for sale.  I felt like a royal schmuck for taking pictures because it was all too rich for my blood...  Although, I did try to go back later in the day when beer had lubricated my wallet some, but alas, they were closed...























 Today my thighs are killing me, and I couldn't figure out why.  We sat on a train for 3+ hours and downtown Peninsula was about two square blocks.  However, it occurred to me after looking at these photos that I did spend the better part of our two hour layover squatting and climbing on top of every bench I could find to  get a better vantage point.






















 More squatting.  Kerig has a very flattering picture of me taking this.  I must say, I didn't realize my knees could still do that...


Lunch consisted of a salad and two very large lite beers.  We came across this flower and I felt like I was drunk off my gourd. I wasn't, but the flower was swaying in the breeze and macro really requires a tripod.  I was moving, the flower was moving, the camera was moving, the focus point was moving...  I'm amazed that I got anything.  






















 We will not go into detail about this lumber yard and that gorgeous golden hour(ish) light.  Suffice it to say: there was a cooler set up for this shot, where I was patiently waiting for the light to cooperate (the sun was in and out of clouds all afternoon) when I was informed it wasn't coming back out.  Liar.

But I can't be too irritated, since he did point out that popping the flash makes the sign really light up for the railroad crossing.  I wish that I had gotten at least one shot of the red flashers going.  


























And you have to love a town where you can meander into the middle of the street, set your camera down on the double yellow line and take a couple of shots. Also, you have to love a town where you can do that and at the end of the double yellow line there's actually something picture worthy.

































And this is my favorite shot of the day.  I'd like to shrug my shoulders and act all nonchalant, but I love the bokeh, the those hexagons make me a little swoony. And there's the light, which is just lovely without being contrived.

And there's one more shot that I want to share, but not from this weekend.






















 This house only has crank out windows. I'm not exactly a fan, since it means that adding a window A/C window unit isn't an option.  And apparently, shelling out scratch to fix the central air "isn't an option" either. Right.  Whatever. Moving on....  Well, it's been a super hot summer, and the windows have been open constantly since June.  We have a couple of cob webs, but I'm in no hurry to go knock them down, since ...well...spiderwebs perform a specific function, and I'm a fan of that function.  So the webs stay. We've also been super dry this summer, and the rains finally started a week or so ago.  It's been wonderful. It's really true what they say about absence and the fond heart.  So it was finally a dark and rainy day and I was sitting at the table eating my lunch when this spiderweb in the crank-out window caught my eye.  I had to gingerly take the screen out of the window to get this shot, and the house is brown (not purple) but I had so much fun shooting this wet web.  And then playing with the shot in Lightroom to make it pop out.  I realize it's kind of gross, but I think it's the best kind of gross.  

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Everything'll "B" okay...and a layout.

So I said I was going to wake up on Friday and not spend the entire day patting myself on the back, and that I'd be back with a more humble post soon.  Well, I didn't define "soon" and I'll be honest, I was still patting myself on the back for most of the day on Friday. ;)

I guess I really deserved those pats.  I just got home from dinner and errands and logged into my email to find my grade for my class: B.  Yay me!

Now I'll move on to the humble (and not school related) portion of the post.

So I got sent the Little Yellow Bicycle "Splash" line to play with and I was all excited because I have tons of pool pictures that still need to be scrapped, so I couldn't wait to 'dive' in.  (har har)  Well, if you read the last post you might have figured out that I've been a little distracted lately.  I had this brilliant idea...

Ok, so I'm an 8.5x11 scrapper now.  I haven't always been.  But when I signed up for Lain Ehmann's Layout A Day challenge in February of 2011 I decided to make the switch, based solely on the notion that I'd be able to plunk my layouts onto the scanner bed and save TONS of time.  For  LOAD you have to upload one layout every day.  If you scrap 12x12 you almost have to take a picture of the layout, and which is a royal pain in the butt, even if you know what you're doing.  So I switched.

So anyway, every once in a while I turn the 8.5x11 page and scrap it in a landscape orientation instead of portrait.  Cuz I'm crazzzzy like that.

Now, fast forward to the beginning of July, when I'm distracted as heck, and sitting down to make this layout.  I had this genius idea to make a two page horizontal layout:

It's okay, right? Maybe not my usual style, but fun. 

And then I woke up the next day and realized: how the heck am I supposed to put that in an album? What a flipping dork.  

So there: humble post. :P

Did I mention I got a B???

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Totally Monkey Free

In his spoken word poem "What Teachers Make" Taylor Mali says "I make kids work harder than they ever knew they could.  I make a C+ feel like a congressional medal of honor and an A- feel like a slap in the face.  'How dare you waste my time with anything less than your very best?'"

I just finished my Calc II class.  And holy hell, was is it HARD. And there is a very good chance that I only got a C+ in the class.

And yes, it feels like a congressional medal of honor.

I took the class at the local community college.  Community College. Easy, right? Piece of cake.  Over achieving stoners go to community college, right? I mean, if you're only paying $70 a credit hour, how hard can it possibly be?

My teacher was Jim Smolko. He didn't get that memo.  He's taught at Lakeland for over 30 years, and mostly he's retired, but every summer he comes back and teaches Calculus and Analytic Geometry I&II.  Mr. Smolko is probably the best teacher I've ever had...ever.  (The only competition he has is Mr. Aiello, my first true love and the teacher who gave me math, like a present with a bow on it.)  Mr. Smolko treated us like future mathematicians and engineers.  He didn't coddle us and say "Well, you made some silly errors, but I can tell you get the drift."

He gave us a quiz every day and for quite some time I really hated him for it.  But we had the same couple of quizzes over and over and over.  By the end of the semester I KNEW that stuff.  Without hesitation.  Backwards, forwards and inside out.  Go ahead.  Ask me the reduction formula  for the hyperbolic cosine of theta squared.  Cuz I can crank that shit out in my sleep.  Holla!

Yikes.  What happened there?

He graded us HARD.  Dickwad hard.  I recently got back a 40 point, 6 part problem that I got a D on, even though I got the answer to every part correct.  I made a notation error SIX times and for each occurrence he took off three points.  I wrote the wrong symbol.  I did the right symbol, but I wrote the wrong one.  FAIL.

And yeah. I was PISSED.  Cross-my-arms-and-scowl-and-not-take-notes pissed. But I'll tell you what. I will NEVER make that mistake again. EVER.

You know how sloppy habits creep in and tend to cement into place?  Maybe you wrote a cover letter and wrote "thru" instead of "through".  That kind of thing.  Mr. Smolko doesn't let the sloppy habits slide.  He circles them in red pen, writes the correction, and then, depending on the severity of the sloppiness writes "-1" or "-2" or...ugh..."-3."  By the end of the 11 weeks, his students know right from wrong and are conditioned to do it the right way.

One of the things that's been frustrating me at Notre Dame is that I don't feel like teachers actually grade assignments.  It's rare that I get feed back and I've gotten all A's with one exception.  I'm not bragging, I'm saying: I don't think I've earned those grades, I've been given them.  I feel like A's are handed out like participation ribbons in little league.  Those A's don't feel good - yes, I worked for them and I put in lots of effort, but with no feedback and no constructive criticism, there was no growth.  There wasn't stretching for the next level.  I wasn't being pushed.  I don't know if it is the teachers are lazy, or they don't believe that I/we can do better.  The kids in my classes all seem fine with it.  I think the all think they're actually A students. Pffft.

Mr. Smolko wasn't lazy. And he wasn't there to collect a pay check and let mediocrity slide through.  He's the Mr. Miyagi of Lakeland's math department.  He pushed.  He demanded.  He held the bar so high and never once lowered it for us.  Because he believed that we could do it.  Because he was training mathematicians and engineers.

And I would rather earn a C+ in a class where an A really means something than get an A in a class where it means nothing.

I have complained and struggled the whole way through.  I've cursed the teacher, I've been a horrible mother and a cranky coworker and girlfriend.  I've broken promises and dropped the ball on commitments.  I've had way too many RockStars.  But I am so proud of myself for what I've accomplished.

So, so proud.

If you're one of the people I've been cranky at or short with, or I've said I'd do something and I didn't: I'm sorry.  I hope this helps you see the bigger picture. I hope I can make it up to you.

And Mr. Smolko: Thank you. I haven't felt this strong in a long, long time.





And yes. Two back to back posts about how hard life's been and how proud I am of myself.  Tomorrow I will wake up and not spend the entire day patting myself on the back and I'll be back with a more humble post soon.  As always, thanks for stopping by.

Friday, July 27, 2012

One less monkey on my back.

In December 2008 I sat down to pay my bills and cried.  I had dug a hole deeper than I could get out of. And every month it was getting worse and worse. I had to do something.

I was $15,000 in debt and took home about $800 every two weeks.  I had rent, a car payment, a cell phone contract, DSL internet (but no cable t.v.), insurance and the occasional kid to feed.  I am not a frivolous spender, but I had put everything from a mattress and box spring to gas to an MRI on my credit cards.  I had nothing of substance to show for my purchases - no big screen t.v., no jewelry or designer clothes. My car could get from A to B and my knee could bare weight. I had hocked what I could - a couple of lenses, some scrapbooking supplies and a wedding ring that wasn't being used.  I was down to the stuff that doesn't sell at garage sales. 

I had heard Bob Brinker (a less annoying Suze Orman type who hosted a show called Money Talk) advise people in my position to go to Consumer Credit Counselling Service and talk to them about debt consolidation.  

I instant messaged my manfriend and fessed up about how bad my financial situation had become.  There were more tears. Angry ones. Embarrassed ones. Worried ones. SCARED ones. And all of them were fat and ugly. Lord, I am an ugly crier. I asked him if he'd come with me to the appointment I was mustering up the nerve to make.  Yes, he said. I asked him if he'd stand by me when I was really poor. Yes, he said.  I asked him if he thought I was stupid or weak. No, he said.

So I made the appointment.

I needed a second pair of ears to make sure everything I was told would come home with me.  I needed a second brain to make sure all the questions got asked. And so on a cold, dreary day in January we entered the back door of an unassuming office building in Parma.  We sat down with Casandra Hudak and I told her things about my money that no one wants to tell anyone. Hi. My name is Caroline. I don't make much money.  I've spent more than I make, and now I'm in deep doo doo. Please help.

She looked at my income. She looked at my bills. She asked me how much I pay for haircuts and how often I buy shoes and why I didn't have a line item for clothing. She punched numbers into her calculator. She entered numbers into her spreadsheets.  She clucked and shook her head and printed out the bad news. 

It would take $435 a month for 42 months. All my credit would be shut off, CCCS would negotiate a lower interest rate, all over limit fees would be waived. Late fees wouldn't be an issue because on the 20th of every month CCCS would take their money and make the payments on my behalf, and, unlike me, they would be really kick ass about making payments on time. I had to agree not to apply for any credit cards for the duration of my time in the program and if their auto-deductions were declined more than once I would be kicked out of the program and left to the mercy of my creditors. 

She pointed out that haircuts and clothing weren't going to be something I could afford.  She advised me not to do the program because there simply wasn't enough income to make it happen without other issues cropping up.  What if your car breaks down? What if I had a medical emergency that required copays?

Yeah? What if? Because I didn't have any money left over after making my payments anyway.  So please, just print out the contract and give to me to sign before I lose my resolve.

We left and it was still cold and dreary, and I was still scared and embarrassed and worried, but I also had butterflies of giddiness.  I could get out of this mess. There might be an end. 

And for the last 41 months I've watched as CCCS has taken $435 out of my checking account.  Most months I've really sweated that money being there.  I've learned to time my other bills and my paychecks to accommodate that withdrawal.  

The bills still came.  Sometimes I would open them and throw them away in disgust.  Progress was steady, but it was SLOW.  Lower interest rates were helpful, but because there was interest, my monthly payments were making dings, not dents, in my total debt.  

Most months I told myself that I was better off not looking at the bills.  They got shredded in a sealed envelope.

Over the last three and a half years I've heard surprisingly little from CCCS.  I got a letter letting me know they were being absorbed into Apprisen Financial Advocates.  There was a tiny flurry of communication a year ago when my bank switched my debit card from Visa to MasterCard.  Aside from that, we haven't been in touch. They make it surprisingly easy to hand over all your financial dirty laundry and let someone else deal with it while you walk away and try to not spend money.

And for all that lack of communication, I was a little surprised to get a message today from Thomas at Apprisen, asking me to call him about my "services" with them.  Once I placed the name I steeled myself for the worst: it was going to take longer than predicted or some other yuckiness.  Megan answered and I told her I was returning a call from Thomas.  Rather than passing me off, she took my name and social security number and proceeded to tell me that I had a zero balance.

What does that mean?

I am done. I have payed everyone off.  A month earlier than planned. I dutifully took notes through the rest of the call, writing down when I should check my credit report (3 to 5 months), what I should look for there (anything that looks out of place), the website that they recommend (annualcreditreport.com) and why looking at the credit report is more beneficial than just buying your scores. I listened politely, asked her to verify that they had my correct address to send the final paperwork, thanked her and hung up.  

And then I cried again.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Brings new meaning to "Quickie"

I'm going to abandon my usual wordy ways and just post a layout without commentary:
I absolutely LOVE the Fancy Pants Wave Searcher line of papers - so sublime, so perfect for memories of a relaxing time at the beach.  

Man. What I wouldn't give for a week at the beach...

Have a good thought for me on Thursday (7/12).  Second of three tests in my calc class.  I'm all studied out, with writers cramp like you wouldn't believe from working problems from 10a.m. to 8:30p.m. At noon tomorrow we'll be down to a mere three weeks. 

I can do it. 
I can do it. 
I can do it.

(I hope.)

Thanks for stopping by!

p.s.  Yeah. I know. So much for no commentary.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Being a parent of teenagers is HARD.

I thought it was hard with Ian because of his ADD.  I grew up with a sibling with ADHD and have 4 kids, only one of whom has ADD.  I know that there are a LOT of people who think it's a BS diagnosis, that really it's an excuse for bad behavior and lazy parenting.  But I can't stress it enough - I came from a household where bad behavior wasn't accepted.  My parents held the bar high and called us when we fell short.  I think there a lot of differences in my parenting style, but tolerating bad behavior isn't one of them.  But ADD often has academic consequences, which can often leave behind a wake of self confidence issues...as well as a number of other challenges.  It's hard for a kid with ADD to keep his shit together all day long, and after he has, he will lose it a little home.  And I'd rather that happen at home than at school, work, church or in public in general.  Is it encouraged? No.  Was he given free reign? No.  But it was sometimes a challenge.  Is.  Is a challenge.  He's 21, works full time, still takes medication to help him focus.  And sometimes those issues still flare up.

Maggie had been easier.  Dreamy, in fact. Especially by comparison.  But part of being a teenager is pushing the limits.  Pushing mom and dad away.  That's how they gain independence. It's the cycle that happens in every home, to some degree or another.  Yes, some kids are easier while some kids wreak havoc on their homes.  So even though she's been on the easy end of the spectrum we've still butt heads on plenty of occasions.

We've had a rough week around here.  And I bare some responsibility in this: if you've stopped by at all in the last 7 weeks, you've certainly read that I'm in over my head with the class I'm taking this summer.  It's put me on edge and I am REALLY trying to hold my shit together for my kids.  Where the little kids haven't really picked up on my edginess, Maggie has noticed and has - wisely - given me a wide girth.  But her wide girth translated into some miscommunications and then - unwisely - some non-communications.  It came to a head tonight - not in a yelling, screaming kind of way, but a calm and civil discussion about expectations, respect, perceptions, family, being a teenager, growing up, consideration and then a whole other slew of things.

WHY am I telling you all this?  Sheesh.  Over sharer of the year. But here's the thing (and I've said this before): I don't think that sharing our struggles is a bad thing.  Because if one person reads this and feels a sense of relief because they, too, are experiencing a less-than-perfect existence, then all this typing was worth it.  I think the front of perfection is bullshit and bad for humanity. :)

Also, I tried to share this layout yesterday and I had nothing to say.  I love the layout, the picture, the journaling.  But yesterday my head and heart weren't able share this.  The sentiment of the layout held, but it felt, somehow, like a lie.  Today, with things ironed out, I can happily share a layout about my daughter.  The daughter I am deeply proud of.


I wish I could easily share the journaling, but apparently I didn't save it.  At this point I'm sunburned, dirty and beat and I just don't trust myself to try to retype it.  If you can make it out, I think it's worth the read.

Thanks for stopping by. At the risk of sounding schmaltzy, I hope all is well with your families.


Friday, July 6, 2012

Tonight might be one of those nights....

...where I grab the kids and an old quilt and head to the beach. My feet hurt and it's hot, and I think standing ankle deep in the lake and then laying down and listening to the waves would be just what I need to shake off the week.


Thursday, July 5, 2012

I don't like rice.

Which is odd, because there's nothing wrong with it.  I just don't like it. I associate it with being poor or sick. It doesn't really have a flavor.  I think it's a waste of calories.  So I don't like it.  And I don't eat it.

If a person says "I hate Brussels sprouts" or "I hate beets", everyone understands.  Even if you happen to like Brussels sprouts, you probably get why someone else doesn't like them.  But rice? No one sympathizes with me.





























Journaling reads:

Kerig started calling me “math girl” close to a year ago, and I have to admit, there in the beginning, I didn’t like it very much.  I felt like maybe he was making fun of me. To be fair, that’s probably all in my imagination, especially since he’s been my biggest supporter and best, most reliable cheerleader all along.  But over time the name has grown on me.  In my head, Math Girl is a super hero.  I have a silly vision in my head of a cartoon girl with a cape with a fun and MG logo on it.  I would like to say that I envision fighting off bad guys with a dry erase marker and my mad integrating skills, but alas, my attempts to study in public have yielded some pretty weird experiences: boys in chicken suits, strange men asking to borrow 50¢ “or maybe a dollar?”, a lady who began making really loud crowing noises and randomly rearranged chairs at the tables around me.  I think these experiences have proven that I’m not ready to go up against the Joker, Lex Luthor or The Riddler anytime soon.
 And never mind that “sigma notation” is my own personal kryptonite… 
I find that televisions, computers, and boyfriends all pose a huge threat to my concentration level, so I have found that going "out" helps me avoid those distractions.  Except, I just seem to trade pleasant distractions for just plain WEIRD distractions.

What on earth does any of this have to do with rice? Nothing, really.  On the way from school to work today I was thinking about how I might have time to write up a blog post, and that it would be about this layout.  Which got me to thinking that I made this right after the Spring semester ended, and how Sigma notation was a pain in my ass then.  And just today we moved on after having spent the last three weeks on....drum roll please...sigma notation.  And it wasn't any less of a pain in my ass this time around.  But really sigma notation is like rice: it's not really a big deal.  But I don't like it, so I make my own big deal about it.

Look.  I found the place where whining about school and scrapbooking intersect. WOOT.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Believe in Yourself

Have I mentioned the class I'm taking this summer is 5 credits? And that it meets for 2 hours a day Monday through Thursday? And that we have a quiz every day? Or that the guy teaching it is...actually, I have not a bad word to say about the man.  But damn he moves fast!

This whole process has been a fun challenge up to this point.  I'm not going to lie: I've complained a lot a long the way, but it's all been doable.  But things ARE getting harder. And I have my doubts.  It's funny, because I've done this before (I already have a degree in math, so shouldn't this be a piece of cake?), but it's not like riding a bike. And having not used those muscles for 20 years, it's like doing it for the first time.

But I really want this.  And I'm entirely different person than I was at 18 and 20 and 22.  I have a focus and a determination that I never had before.  I have my priorities laid out and I'm honoring them on a daily basis.  I know myself, my strengths and my weaknesses.  I know how to manage my time, how to push through and when to take a break.

This won't last forever (although, it's sort of feeling like it at the moment), but I am seeing the end in sight.

And all of that ↑↑↑  is what this ↓↓↓ is all about:

This is a lousy shot of a page I really like.  If you know the kinds of pages I make, I'm not one on embellishments - love them, but they feel awkward unless they have meaning.  (even then, I'm no master, so I often remove them before committing to them)  But this does have symbolism - the graph paper represents my math journey, the butterflies are...well, duh...the leaves are growth, the metal shows the strength that I want to have.  Even the hexagons are routed in an assignment on tessellations I had last semester that really pissed me off. :P
















But yeah - the hexagons are hot right now.  I love them and this won't be the last time they pop up on a page.  Maybe next time they'll be a little "funner" than they are this time around.  But I *love* these - they way they're wonky and just trail off.  And here's a fun tidbit: I asked Kerri Bradford to make them and she did.  How cool is that? The set can be found HERE.
























I spritzed the background with Mr. Huey's and cut the hexagons out of the patterned paper and then cut the hexagon edges in black and mounted that on top of the patterned paper, then mounted the whole thing on the spritzed cardstock using foam squares. I love the way the elevation creates the shadows.  Sadly, it just doesn't show up in the photos.

So that's that today.  It's not my usual way, but I like it.

Friday, June 22, 2012

It may not make sense to you, but to me, it means the world.

Scrapbookers document.  Through photos, words, and products, we chose a story, we convey a mood, we record our perspective.  We choose big stories - life's monumental occasions: weddings, new babies, graduations.  We choose the reoccurring biggies: first days of school, lost teeth, Thanksgiving and birthdays. But we often forget to record those fleeting moments that make up the seemingly mundane of every day life.

Listen, I'm guilty of this, too.  Kids whining about not wanting to unload the dishwasher is hardly compelling scrapbook material. But I got this one right.  And it may not make sense, or you may get mired down in the minutia of what was said, but for me the fact that I got that crappy cell phone photo and a quote from my son down - that's my definition of hitting it spot on.

One night when I was too lazy to cook I herded Ted and Molly into the car and we headed for Chipotle.  On our way a personalized license plate sparked a conversation that eventually meandered into a conversation about the phrase "In God we trust" on money, and whether the sentiment is unconstitutional.  I have to admit, having a seventh grader who questions whether ANYTHING is unconstitutional makes me pretty proud. We talked about how our country was founded by people looking to be free of religious persecution, and how William Bradford wrote extensively on the importance of respecting the religious rights of others.  We don't need to believe what other's do, but we do have to give them the freedom to worship as they see fit.  And then we talked about how we have different ways of referring to God, and different thoughts about what He wants for and from us, but that we can probably agree that "God" is a widely accepted terms, and is probably plenty constitutional.  Just about then we arrived at Chipotle and as we walked through the parking lot he said it: "But not all religions are monotheistic."  My son, whose every thought seems to revolve around football and baseball and video games, used the word monotheistic correctly in a sentence debating the constitutionality of...well...anything.  I'm not saying he was right or wrong, I'm saying: Wow. It was such an unexpected thing that as we stood in line at Chipotle I typed the sentence into my phone.  We sat down with our food and while I fussed with my foil wrapper and getting everything just so it occurred to me that I should snap a quick picture of Ted - something to remember the day with.  By the time I finished with the phone and started eating I looked over and noticed that he was taking the last bite of his burrito.  In the time it took me to unwrap my straw, tear off the top of our chip bag and peel the foil off my burrito he was DONE.  Apparently this is what it is to have a teenage, sports-playing son on the cusp of becoming a grown up.

I love that I saved this memory.  It might not make sense to anyone other than me, but it's my memory and every time I turn the page and see this, I will smile and my heart will be happy.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Bouncing Back

So I said I'd post something scrapbooky soon, and there's no time like the present!  We started a new chapter in Calc today and apparently the first sections  are easier than subsequent sections, because I got my homework done in about 2 hours, which is down from the usual 5. So I've got a little unaccounted for free time! YEE HAA!!

I made this layout for the Cord Camera Scrapbook Studio Design Team for June and it was posted a little while ago and I haven't had a chance to add my 2¢ about it.  I was asked to play with Bella Blvd's Sunshine and Happiness line.  I absolutely love bright, vibrant colors and I gravitate towards playful, small(ish) patterns.  These papers hit all my favorite things! Well, not my graph paper favorite thing, but that's another day's post...  Naturally I had a ton of fun with these papers. 

Sometimes you start the layout process holding a picture and thinking about the story you want to tell.  In this case, I had the papers first, I immediately thought of a picture of my older daughter Maggie wearing an orange striped swimsuit in our community pool when we lived in Rochester, Indiana 15 or so years ago.  I set out to find that photo but got sidetracked along the way.  That can sometimes happen when you have something like 20 shoeboxes of photos to dig through...  Have you ever been flipping through photos looking for something and coming across something that stops you dead in your tracks? You let out a little sigh and stare at the photo while memories wash over you? So cheesy, I know, but that's what happened.  

When I got my first studio light I didn't really know what I was doing, and the best way to learn is to play and practice and experiment and analyze and retry.  Molly was both my assistant and my muse.  She was so good about letting me practice on her.  For my part, I did my best to make it either short or fun or a little of both.  On this day, I had a big cup full of bouncy balls and had her fling the balls at me.  The shots were super fun - globs of color floating in the air and her happy expression and chubby toddler hands behind them.  

I love the way the Bella Blvd papers convey a fun and happy vibe.  I love (lovelovelove) the wonky scallop borders - can't get enough of that!




























I used the words that came on the sticker sheet interspersed with my journaling, but wanted to add just a little more color to keep the flow - so added colored text boxes around various words.  For the sticker words that were white, I just used a colored pencil and none-to-carefully traced around them just to help them pop a little more.  I love that the journaling became a design element.  I want to remember to try this again sometime soon.























I feel like I might be the last person in the scrapperverse to try these stick pin/flaggie things.  

I'm gonna come right out and say it:
THEY SCARE ME.
I don't know why, but they do.  I envision injuries and blood.  But I'm here to tell you, no bodily fluids were lost in the making of this layout or in any subsequent handling.  Maybe they're not that scary after all.  And they're danged cute!  
Oh.  The little graphic prints make my heart happy.  The grids, itty bitty polka dots and chevrons in happy colors are perfect.  They couldn't have picked a better name for this line than Sunshine and Happiness! I totally agree.












And now, Molly aged 11 11/12 is waiting for me to beat her play her in a couple of games of ping pong!

Thanks for stopping by!












p.s. Did you notice that there was NO SILHOUETTE used on this page?  I know, right? CRAZZZY!!!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Epic Flail

Have you ever watched a drowning scene in movie or tv show where the actor is swatting at the surface of the water and gasping for air? Only their head is above water more than it's under, so they're not in any real danger (yet) and you feel like yelling at the screen "If you'd just calm down, take a deep breath and keep your fingers together, you'd be FINE!"  It's that flailing around that is so desperate and so very unproductive.  And yet, when you're in that moment, when you feel so helpless and scared and the panic sets in and takes over, it's the only thing your confused body can muster.

Sometimes all you really have to do it put your feet down and stand up to find that you were never really in danger in the first place.

I don't know what this has to do with scrapbooking or blogging, except this round-about "this is where I am" post.  I am not prepared to say that I am a perfectionist, because I am far too lazy for that.  But I'm not fond of failure and I'm even less fond of half-assing it.  And while I'm not a perfectionist, I do have a little "thing" about my grades.  I was never like this the first time around.  I worked kinda hard(ish) but maintaining a good work/life balance was more important than my grades.  And sometimes my definition of "life" was a little way off base.  Note to the 20 year-old version of me: Wheel of Fortune reruns do NOT count as "life."  Anyway, my grades: frankly, it's not the grade that concerns me.  If that were the case I'd cheat.  It's not the grade that concerns me so much as the level of understanding and ability it represents. Someone who earns a B simply doesn't have the same grasp of the material as the person who earns the A.  Theoretically, at least.  Because the person who earned the A could turn around and forget it all by the time their lunch is digested and ultimately know less than the B person, if that B person were diligent about learning from his or her mistakes and keeping the information active within their memory banks.

Theoretically.

There it is. The 83% on my Calc II exam.  That leaves me with an overall  89%.  The good news is, I kept the dumb mistakes to a minimum - maybe 3 points were because I just transcribed something wrong or made a sign error.  That's good.  The bad news is, the other mistakes were because I had genuinely forgotten, or didn't have a good enough grasp of the concept.  Now that is where I feel like the bad actor slapping the water and gasping for breath.  Because I do know this stuff.  And now, because I didn't have it on the day of the test, hopefully I've kicked into my brain in such a manner than I'll do better next time the question comes up.

Oy.  This going back to school as a bona fide adult isn't for wimps.  You develop that work ethic and standards and you raise the bar a little higher and suddenly really decent just isn't good enough.

Remember when this was a scrapbooking blog? Yeah. Me too.  I miss it.



You should take a minute to watch that. Especially if you have kids.  Because it's fun.
And also, so you can walk around singing "Potato, potato, potato. Potato, potato, potatooo. Potato, potato, potato" in your head, like me.

I'll be back in a day or two with an honest to goodness scrapbook post.
Thanks for stopping by.

And hey! Did you know that St. Hubert is the patron saint of mathematics?  He's also the patron saint of hunters, which means he has a pocket protector AND a cross bow.  How cool is that?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

What I did on my Summer vacation:


Panicked.

Yesterday was one of those days where my professor talked and I listened...and for as much as I understood, he might as well have been speaking in Portuguese. Ok, maybe it wasn't quite THAT bad.  But it wasn't that good, either. And then he assigned the homework, which looked a little like this:

Chapter 5.8, page 398
ODDS:
19-33
45-73
79-99
105-109

Chapter 6.2, page 420
ODDS:
21-27
33-41
57-61

And then, for good measure, a worksheet.
Oh! And don't forget to study for the quiz.  You know...the QUIZ...the one we start every blessed class with.  His favorite phrase is "...I'll take a point off for every time you make that mistake." I'm convinced it's entirely possible to get a negative score on his tests.

Anyway, yesterday. Holy cow.  By the time 11:00 rolled around last night, I was done.  And by "done" I don't mean "finished my homework." Rather, I mean, I was done trying.  I was throwing in the towel. I woke up this morning with a lump in my stomach. This is the day that it all unravels.  This is the day that the gig is up.  You're not smart enough. You're not strong enough.  You're not dedicated enough. You're a sham. Just like before.

What a crappy way to start the day.

Plus, I hadn't even studied for the quiz.  Most of the time, in a math class, a quiz is "do these three problems."  With Mr. I-Will-Whip-Your-Sorry-Ass-Into-Shape-and-You-Will-EARN-Whatever-Grade-You-Receive it means memorization of definitions, theorems, and formulas. It's a page worth of regurgitation.  Math? Not (generally) a problem. Regurgitation? Sort of an problem.

My big issue yesterday is that we were doing something based on something I learned in 11th grade.  For those who don't know me personally, 11th grade was 1984. Holy SHITBALLS.  (excuse my language, but I deserve credit for holding that in until now) Normally when a teacher is working on something relatively obscure, like, say, hyperbolic trig functions, a teacher might elect to do a brief ten minute refresher.  No.  Not Mr. Damn-The-Calculus-Torpedoes-Full-Speed-Ahead.

Despite the self-loathing mantras I started the day with, I am smart enough to "plug-and-chug."  A mathematical term meaning "just plug the damn numbers into the formula and get the friggen answer already."  It's common practice for people who don't actually know (or want to know) the theories and concepts behind the math.  So I was able to - painstakingly - get through about 70% of the homework.

But 70% isn't really good enough in a class that meets for an hour and 45 minutes Monday through Thursday.  I suppose it would be fully acceptable on Thursday, but if you pull that 70% crap on Monday you are seriously putting yourself behind the eight ball for the rest of the week.  This guy moves fast and if you don't get what we talked about yesterday, you might be building your flimsy house of cards on a sandy beach in a windstorm, if you get my drift. Which is partially why I woke up with nothing kind to say to myself this morning.  "You're fucked" was kind of as nice as I could muster.

But the heavens smiled on me today.  He hadn't even taught the whole chapter yesterday.  And during our break I mentioned that I hadn't been in a trig class since 1984 (which, by the way, is a critical error when surrounded by a bunch of 19 year olds. There was a faint ripple of "1984??"s heard in the room after I said it. What an ego booster.  Because I'm taking that as they all had no clue that I was ...well...as old as I am.  Guess that cat's out of the bag now, eh?) Anyway, I mentioned the 1984 thing and that I couldn't really remember what it all meant and the professor didn't really say anything.  But then after he covered one or two things, he offered us an impromptu extra credit assignment.  In the course of telling us what he wanted us to do, he fully unfolded the concepts that I hadn't understood.   He drew and labeled graphs, reminded us what things meant, worked some parallel problems.

Gratitude is one of those things that has been ingrained in me from a million years ago.  I don't know if it's from years of "Say 'thank you.'" or the format of the way I pray, but good doesn't go unnoticed.  I am so grateful for the way he dropped back and punted.  That he changed up his lesson to quietly accommodate the old lady and did in a way that wouldn't bore the other students, and would even throw a life raft to some other students.  Despite my panic today, I'm doing well in the class.  I don't "need" extra credit, per se.  However, doing the exercise will reinforce what I had long ago forgotten.  That he didn't throw me under the bus for the other students to see or ignore my issues, for that I am extremely grateful.

Oh, and that homework up there^^^?  For the first time ever, he reposted it and told us to finish it up.

Whew.

And so I came home with a HUGE weight off my shoulders.  Today would not be the day it all unraveled.  Or the day the gig was up.  I might revisit the sham thing, but I can let go of it today.

And then I allowed myself to work on some design team stuff.  Oh how wonderful it is to "have" to scrapbook.  To be able to switch gears, switch from left brain to right brain is such a relief sometimes.  And how grateful am I to have this opportunity to have this balancing agent in my life? ETERNALLY.

And the Instagram shot at the top of the post? That's the sneak peek.  But you knew that already.  ;)


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Do you know about Plum District?

It's the same basic concept as GroupOn and LivingSocial, but with more of a mom/Mormon-y bent.  I'm asking because they have a deal where you get $50 worth of Silhouette stuff for $30.  You can't use it on the machines, gift cards or downloadable shapes.  HOWEVER, if you're kind of thinking about buying the Designer Edition of the software, or maybe you want to try some vinyl or rhinestone packs, it would be perfect.  I used mine for the software...I'm hoping to quit my day job.  ;)  Just kidding.

I'm not trying to get mine for free or anything, just sharing the love.  :)

Here's a linky-poo to see the offer. (I hope)

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day Sneak Peak

Blah Blah Blah.
This is the third version of this because apparently I thought you needed the blow by blow of my weekend, but really, what you need to know boils down to this:

1. I was actually at my house for the weekend.  (normally I am not)
2. Due to the holiday (Thank you to all who have served, past and present) I had the day off.
3. I cleaned and purged my scrap room.  There will be some really kick ass trash at 8860 this Thursday.
4. I have scrapped 3 layouts SO FAR this weekend.  I'm hoping to squeeze in one more before bed.
5. I have a sneak peak:






















6. I think I failed to mention that I recently took a class called A CUT ABOVE offered at OnlineCardClasses.com.  I simply can't say enough good things about this class.  The class is about die cutting, both traditional and Silhouette, with a card slant.  I had hoped that it would get me past my card making issues, but sadly, it didn't, but the techniques and products and how-tos were fantastic.
7, I think I also failed to mention that I recently took Kerri Bradford's "Oh the places you'll go" class.  Which is kind of alie, because, truth be told, I'm only about half way through it.  I have learned a metric shit ton about the Cameo software.  That's saying a lot, because I really thought I knew a ton to start with.  She's got some really fabulous examples and goes through the software in a goal-oriented way, so you aren't just learning how to do something, but why it's handy to know it.  I've put so much of it to use already.  Such a time saver.  Both classes are self paced, so if you have a little extra money to spend on yourself (don't we all??) these are really good investments.
8.  I think I said something about attempting to do another layout tonight, so I think I should wrap this up.
9. Thanks for stopping by.
10.  Nine is such a dopey way to end a list blog entry.  Who would do that? Not me!

UPDATE: That 4th page? LOLOLOLOL