Thursday, December 22, 2011

Ghosts of Christmas Past

I was what you would call a fan of the Dicken's classic, A Christmas Carol, but it seems to be striking a chord with me this year. Lessons learned over the years have made us all who we are today and I've become very sentimental over the past year (yup, probably hormones but, hey, let's just go with it...). 

The Ghosts of Christmas Past in my life are many and widely varied so I'm trying to morph them into one with a lesson that fits. Staying true to Dicken's approach, there was only one ghost from the past, though if memory serves, and by memory I mean seeing 15 minutes of "A Muppet Christmas Carol" while channel surfing last week, who reminded Scrooge of past happinesses and shortcomings.  I've plenty of both but the ones that stand out are all tied to family and friends. 

Some of the earliest and best memories are of my Dad ho ho ho-ing outside our bedroom windows on Christmas Eve then waking us up at 4:00 am too excited to wait 'til we woke up on our own. He HAD to show us the incredible air hockey table Santa brought us. His love of Christmas almost exceeded ours as kids. I love that Dad was as much a child at Christmas as my sister and I were. I cannot wait to see him spend this Christmas with his grandkids. That will be my gift from him, whether he knows it or not. The twins are now 16 months old and full of curiosity. Combine them with a 77 year old who is still just as full of wonder, especially when it comes to seeing the kids learn and grow...and heck, you might as well put a ribbon on that!

Fast Forward to 1980-something when sneaking home from College with great friends to set up a tree at my parents house to surprise them resulted in a not so pleasant call from my Mother reprimanding me for letting the cat make a giant mess. {Apparently Boo climbed it and toppled the tree then proceeded to pull out then drag all the baby's breath, flowers and ribbon through out the house. Whoda thunk?!?!} Would I do it again? Absolutely, yes. The thought was there and the cat probably had a fantastic time playing with the decorations even if my Mother wasn't too impressed. 

Fast Forward again to 2010 when we spent the first week of December home with our twins, freshly released from NICU and feeling like a family only to end up in the hospital on and off throughout the holiday for our daughter's health issues, which were unknown to us at the time. Spending the week before Christmas in a hospital is no way to spend one's first Christmas, yet it was followed up with visits from wonderful friends Dana and Victor and Matt and Don who embraced these two tiny babies in such a way that reminded us we were truly blessed despite the challenges that may lie ahead. Seeing your kids be unconditionally loved by those who you love is an amazing thing...there really aren't words to describe it. It's heartwarming, and even that is too lukewarm to convey the feeling.

I guess if taken as a sum whole, the lesson I take away from the Ghost of Christmas Past is: don't blink. The special moments are everywhere, sparkling like those random iridescent crystals that catch your eye when you're burdened with the task of shoveling 2 foot of snow from your steep and seemingly endless driveway in sub-zero temperatures. Look for the sparkle, not the slush. Enjoy the moments and make the effort to keep the love of life alive and in the hearts of everyone (even if there is an adorable yet diabolical cat, wild with free will and a serious stash of catnip at it's disposal, in the mix).

As for the rest of the classic - Christmas Present and Future remain to be seen this year. I have high hopes for the very best Christmas ever, but if the turkey explodes or the gifts don't fit, I'll remember to look for the sparkle in the snow and make light of the mishaps. They will happen, the key is to keep it all in perspective.

May the Ghosts of Christmas Past bless you with wonderful memories and Present and Future shine brightly enough to cast no shadows on your festivities.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

WARNING: The images below may be disturbing to some.

Those of you who have over-developed or fragile fashion senses may want to look away.  The images below depict, quite possibly, the WORST case of bedhead I've ever seen on a one year old!!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Rush

Every year this time creeps up on me and attacks like a cat lying in wait behind the shower curtain. And this year, like all others, has me feeling the Christmas rush as I try to finish up designing several new scrapbook programs, deck the halls, and figure out what and where to get everybody's gifts {big surprise,  I'm a last minute shopper!?!}. The project du jour is the Caywood Family Christmas Card. It's always a big challenge - what style?, what photos to use?, themed?, not themed? On and on the process goes but this year it started with the photo shoot. Yes, our first family photo shoot, and let me say, there were over 600 photos taken and only 13 between two photographers were presentable! Of those precious 13, only 1 of the whole family (and there are only 4 of us) all facing the camera at the same time existed. After experiencing the Christmas chaos, I reflect on my childhood Christmasses and think, Dear God, how the hell did my parents do it?!?!  {I'd say lots of eggnog, but neither of them drink so it must have been some sort of Divine intervention.}

Anyway, feeling slightly nostalgic, I messed around with the thought of making our Christmas card look like the photos from the 60's-70's. You know drained of color but full of feeling. It hits me that the reason photos from that time are sooooo appealing because there was a specialness to each photo. With film, processing and the anticipation of those photos arriving at your local drug store after a minimum 2 week wait, the pictures were celebrated as much as the event that was captured by the light on the lens. Each held a special memory to the photographer or photographee. We are lucky to have digital photography at our fingertips giving us the ability to catch every moment and amusement, but do we really cherish every minute and does that dilute the specialness? It certainly affords us the resources to get a "perfect picture" but that may miss the mark of the perfect memory. I'm torn about the change but but I do know that old stained, torn, faded photos carry more emotion than spiffy brand spanking sparkling new digitals in many ways. Perhaps I need to reframe my thoughts on photos and picture taking in general.

It takes way more time and skill to make a photo look old than I thought but after much trial and play with photoshop, here's the result.

I hope the holiday season brings you all much cheer and memories of a more simplistic time when the biggest challenge was untangling the Christmas lights!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Decking the halls

Christmas decorations continue to invade the house. Hopefully by the end of the week we will have the tree up and decorated but until then the little touches that keep popping up make me smile. It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas in the Caywood home!

You can't get ahead if your're trying to get even

The title says it all. You can't get ahead if you're trying to get even. It's a saying that is quite apropo today. 

I try to live my life in a forward motion, perfecting my craft, honing my skills and getting better and stronger without dwelling on the past. I try to continually grow as a person and dedicate myself to those people and things that I love.

However, there are some from my past who do not live this way and it's come to my attention that one in particular is on a bit of a fishing expedition trying to find out what is going on in my life. It is with intent to inflict harm that this person asks questions about me and I believe the person will continue to try to cause some drama to feed their own ego and sense of power. They will, of course, say they are doing it in the line of work, no doubt, deflecting their personal accountability, though it is most definitely personal.

I am reminding myself that I escaped that drama years ago and have been much happier and more blessed in life since then. As a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, I truly believe that getting out of that arrangement was the best thing that ever happened to me. I do not wish to return to the dysfunction that occurred in the past nor do I wish to be bothered ever again with even the thought of this human (for lack of a better term, though many come to mind).

A well lived life is the best revenge. And that is all I have to say about that. (Forrest, Forrest Gump)

Friday, December 2, 2011

Countdown to Christmas

Here's the Christmas Calendar I'm working on. I used an old type drawer as a base for the calendar to create a unique shape and space for each of the days. The papers and elements in the calendar are from a scrapbooking program I designed, along with adorable mini ornaments from Michaels.

 {Cinnamon scented pinecones topped with glittery red birds really bring the feel of Christmas to the entryway of our home}

{This cute tin bucket holds the key holder/numbers and all the elements for the calendar while adding a little festivity of it's own}


Monday, November 21, 2011

KCD is giving thanks {in the form of a digital freebie for you}

So, you've got a house full of family and friends coming for dinner in just a few days and need cute Thanksgiving nametags for the table(s) ~ or you're going to a friend's for the holiday and made some goodies to share but want some festive labels to dress up your gifts. We've got just the thing...KCD's Thanksgiving linen labels. Just drop a comment below with an email address and I'll send you this KCD original digital file for free!
Simply print on your favorite paper or label material, cut out and use. Adorable!


(please note this file and artwork is only for your personal use and may not be used, copied or borrowed for any commercial purposes)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Breathe...just breathe.

For those of you who read this blog, you already know that I often get sidetracked by the many things in my life these days and forget that I have a blog to attend to. Sporadic as it may be, I find that it's cathartic to write and want to be more dedicated to doing this on a regular basis.

In fact, several months ago I was told by a counselor (who specializes in the challenges facing parents of multiples) that I should journal everyday. (let's just clarify, with a normal infant that's difficult, with twins dang near impossible but with twins who were 11 weeks premature, one of whom has health issues that require full time nursing, it's downright ridiculous to even get a minute to THINK, nevemind write your thoughts out longhand!) I smiled and nodded at her but in my head the snarky sarcastic me thought - "uh huh, I'll get right on that - after cleaning up the baby barf, doing laundry, rocking, feeding, and changing a multitude of poopy diapers...seriously you think I have time to journal when I can't even get a shower everyday?!?". Regardless, I was going to see her since we had a new family, which was a major adjustment for a couple of 40-somethings like Dave and I so I thought I'd gain some insight from a professional who herself had twins. I know she meant well but a lot of the tips and tricks were not applicable to our situation and missed the mark of being helpful.

In addition to this doctor's not-so-helpful "promise me you will do this" list of  "take time for you" exercises she had one well-hidden and disturbing attribute that surfaced about 4 weeks into our sessions. {Cue the villianous duh-dun-dah music} She was a hugger. Not the casual kind of hugger who takes the universally understood "end this hug now" back pat hint. We're talking prolonged hugging, compounded by her telling me to "breathe....just breathe...". This is the hug that makes you feel incredibly uncomfortable. In truth it was the ANTI-HUG. Hugs are intended to bring comfort and a warm fuzzy feeling...this imposter hug failed to meet any and all hug criteria. Can you say AWKWARD? I left there thinking "that was weird" -  "and unprofessional" -  "and, yeah, weird". So I went home, feeling rather unsettled and, yeah, just weird. 

A week passed and being the forgiving type that I am, I thought it might be a one time thing and decided to keep my appointment for that morning despite the risk. So I went, and talked until the 40 minute mark  when I stopped talking as she gave me her new to-do task list, then abruptly, I made a beeline for the door. Much to my surprise, she was ready with counter measures deviously cloaked as courtesy. I smiled as I thought she was simply opening the door for me but she put her hand on the knob, then body-twisted 180 degrees to face me and, you guessed it... pulled me into yet another hug! I was in a state of disbelief and a"why the hell didn't you anticipate and prepare for this" thought when the "breathe...just breathe" words hit my ears, again. So, I responded, "It's fine, I'm fine, everything will be fine" thinking, "okay she needs a verbal cue". Nope, didn't work. There I stood, stuck in the constricting arms of a woman half my height, powerless to escape unless I surrendered to her I exhaled, really loud, with a sigh and it was like the parting of the Red Sea. Without warning her arms and office door magically opened! I could see the inviting flourescence of the hallway lights and smell the musty odor of the sad, white noise infused, windowless corridor that served as a waiting room. Seeing my chance, I quickly made my way through the door jam, past the unsuspecting victims sitting in the mismatched secondhand waiting room chairs, into the main hall and down to the elevator...I could almost taste the fresh air of freedom when all of a sudden the moment of bliss was broken by a crackling voice saying, "You can pay at the front desk. See you next week." Then in a flash, (similar to those 'getting sucked backwards at warp speed through a tunnel' shots you see in the movies) I realized my feet had not left the floor at all and the counselor was still standing there with one hand on my shoulder looking at me like I was this poor pitiful creature needing further guidance. Yet another mistaken perception on her part, I was just lost in my anti-hug escapist day-dream. I guess a hug only last until the 45 minute mark, or in counseling terms, your hour is up! Needless to say, after that I never went back.  OH, but I digress...

Even though I may not be able to do this everyday, if I can get a couple of posts done each week it will be a fun break for me, (and it's my acknowledgment that the counselor was right in some respect). It's good to talk, and vent and get things out, and here, on this page, I'm assured of no prolonged awkward hugging!

Thursday, October 27, 2011


I love Halloween for all it's spooky good fun, and, of course, candy! Here you can grab a sugar-free treat, jpg paper files and pngs of the apothecary labels I designed just for you to print and use(for personal use only - no commercial use at all will be permitted). All I ask is you send me a pic of your cool projects to post if you use the files :)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

First year in review

As if the last blog post date didn't give it away, I've been very busy over the past year with my new job as full-time Mommy of twins. It's been an extraordinary journey this far and I expect will continue to be so as the days and weeks go by. Our twins decided to arrive 11 weeks earlier than planned and spent much of that time in NICU. We quickly realized that babies are God's way of reminding us that we are NOT in control, and that is okay.

The recap isn't a good way to sum up all that has happened over the course of a year but while loading photos onto a digital photo frame this week I realized just how far we have all come in such a short time. Our daughter, Delaney, has grown from 2 1/2 lbs at birth to 16 lbs of joyful, inquisitive, patient, and goofy chattering girliness. And our son, Beckett, has earned the nickname "The Bulldozer", bulking up from his 3lb starting point to a muscley 22 lb boy who explores everything through hours of bulldozering over, under and through everything (even his sister) as he crawls with wild reckless abandon! Together they will be unstoppable, and the love they share is abundantly apparent when they talk to each other while bouncing in sync in their adjacent bounceroos. It's a language only they will ever know but we enjoy the interaction and are amazed at how much they respond to each other's voices and touch.

I guess if I had to sum it up I'd say this year was the fastest year full of the longest days I've even known.  Broken into moments; some were good, some scary, some exciting, some quiet, some loud, some happy, some sad, some tender, some overwhelming, some silly, some mad,  but all of them, every last one filled with love. The pictures tell the stories that sometimes our hearts and heads forget, and serve to remind us that it has, indeed, been a great and wonderous first year as a family.