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}