Monday, September 19, 2011


The Simple Scrapper blog has a weekly journalling exercise, Celebrate Monday, with a prompt to jump start your journalling. I need to work more on journalling my journey, especially if I want to really get down those memories from the past year and a half. Collin is a part of my journey, and as hard as his stories may be, I need to start scrapping them. Hopefully if I can start by getting the journalling down, it will be easier for the page to come together.

This week's prompt is: The song that always takes me back is…

"Smile" by Nat King Cole

Smile though your heart is aching
Smile even though it's breaking
When there are clouds in the sky, you'll get by
If you smile through your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You'll see the sun come shining through for you

Light up your face with gladness
Hide every trace of sadness
Although a tear may be ever so near
That's the time you must keep on trying
Smile, what's the use of crying?
You'll find that life is still worthwhile
If you just smile

That's the time you must keep on trying
Smile, what's the use of crying?
You'll find that life is still worthwhile
If you just smile

This song is both bittersweet and hopeful for me, but it helped me through the most difficult time a parent can go through. Collin needed brain surgery when he was 6 months old, and it took 3 weeks... 3 very loooong weeks.... for us to hear back on the results of the biopsy. During those 3 weeks my best friend Missa stayed with me in the hospital, making sure I ate and slept, keeping my mind sane. She would sing this song to Collin when he got cranky and he would calm down right away... and so would I. I still can't sing this song myself without getting emotional.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

my favorite picture

This is one of my favorite pictures of Collin... for many reasons. When you have a child with cancer, each picture becomes infinitely more precious. On this morning I took him to the park to get a "portrait" type picture of him. He no longer has the feeding tube in his nose - he has a button in his belly now that we can feed him through. I really need to do another photo session of him without the tube... maybe in a pumpkin patch. However, these types of photos are rare... most people would take for granted that it's easy to get pictures of their kid looking into the camera. But for a blind child, out of 279 pictures this is the only one where he looks like he's looking in the direction of the camera. Collin is the sweetest thing on earth, especially with everything he has to go through, full of charm and grace, and this picture shows it all.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Mr Smee?

So I had a discussion with Liam about halloween costumes last weekend. Here's the background before I get to the story: Liam is obsessed with anything cars or trains... so I will take any opportunity to foster interest in anything else. Jake and the Neverland Pirates is a new show on Disney, and I was able to convince him to have a pirate themed birthday party when he turned 4 in June, which he still talks about. So, thinking early to get him thinking about costumes and liking my ideas, this conversation followed:

Me: Liam, since you had a pirate party for your birthday, do you want to dress up like a pirate for halloween?
Liam: Yes! I can be Jake from Jake andtheNeverlandPirates!
Daddy: What if we all dress up like pirates?
Liam: yeah, that's a good idea! Daddy, you can be Captain Hook!
Me: And who would I dress up as?
Liam: You can be Mr Smee!!!!!
Me: Mr Smee?!?!?! How about Tinkerbell?
Liam: No, Tinkerbell's not a pirate! She lives in Pixie Hollow, not Neverland!

(side note... maybe I should get him to watch the original Peter Pan before Halloween if I really want to dress like Tinkerbell. Then again, it's pretty cold here for Halloween so maybe Mr Smee is a better choice!)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Blog Your Heart (a challenge)

Stephanie Howell has a challenge on her blog today - a challenge to blog your heart. I don't always go into the deep end of things with my life... well... mostly because it can go pretty deep. But I have some deep stuff to share today.

Yesterday, my baby Collin turned 2. This picture was taken in the rooftop healing garden at Yale after his chemotherapy appointment. How many children need to get chemo on their birthday? I don't know... but I know if it wasn't for chemo, Collin wouldn't have made it to this birthday, and for that we are truly blessed.

He was diagnosed at 6 months with brain cancer - Pilomyxoid Astrocytoma (I dare you to google it, you won't find much). It's a rare brain cancer, and as such has not had much research - which means there is no definitive treatment plan which is known to work to "cure" this cancer. Collin will never be cured, he will always have this brain cancer in his head. The best we can hope for is shrinkage and stable. So far he seems to be doing well on his current treatment for the past year and a half, other kids with this diagnosis have had to go through several different regimens before finding one that works. His treatment plan currently is indefinitely - as long as it's still working and the cancer is still shrinking. I know one kid who's been in treatment for 5 years, and every time they stopped treatment it grew back quickly. This is the long hard road we are on.

We celebrated at home by having cupcakes. I had to hold Collin's hand while we sang happy birthday to make sure he didn't explore and touch the burning candles by mistake. Oh, I forgot to mention, he's blind from the surgery to try to remove the cancer.

We let him smash up the cupcake and play with the frosting. He even managed to get a couple little tastes of the frosting which made him gag... he developed a feeding aversion before he was diagnosed and he hasn't eaten anything by mouth since March 2010. But we feel grateful that he at least put his sticky frosting hand up to his mouth... that's a big thing for us.

Then his big brother Liam gave him a present (we'll be having two big parties this weekend so we're saving the other gifts for then). Collin had fun for a few minutes just playing with the bag before Chris helped him reach in to feel what was in the bag.

Meet Collin's newest favorite chewtoy... Captain Nummy Pants.

Happy Birthday Collin!!

Things I have learned about myself in these past 2 years:

1. I am so much stronger than I ever thought I could be. Other people tell me they would have become completely insane dealing with everything I have to do on a daily basis.When we found out he had cancer, I told myself that I would be strong in the moment because I needed to be. If I fell apart, Collin wouldn't get the good care he needed to get. I have to be strong for him. 

2. I decided scrapbooking would be my emotional outlet. When I'm ready to handle it, I'll print out all those pictures and scrap and cry. I've done a few layouts just touching on pieces of our journey, but I still fall apart when I try to look at the pictures from when he was in the hospital for 6 weeks for surgery.

3. I don't see a therapist, although I probably should. I keep tabs on how well I'm doing by how much I want to scrapbook and/or cook. I know I'm doing bad when I don't want to do either for more than a day or two and try to do something to get myself out of my funk. So far I haven't needed any meds to deal with life.

4. In situations like these, you really do find out who your true friends are. A lot of people have fallen off the map for me - including family. Sad, I know. But we've had several new friends pop up who've really become involved in our lives.

5. Because of his surgery, Collin is blind, and he had a stroke causing left-sided weakness. He's just learning to crawl and stand, but can't do either on his own yet. He has several therapy appointments a week and has come a long way since his surgery, but he still has a long way to go.

6. I have to keep myself from getting angry or thinking about what Collin would be doing if he didn't have cancer. It's a rare photo if I get one that looks like he's actually looking at the camera. He would be playing more with his brother. He would have a few words he could say, instead of just babbling. He'd be walking around and getting into trouble with his brother. He'd be eating solid food and hopefully enjoying it - he had quite an appetite before he started getting sick.

7. I have to remind myself to be blessed for what Collin is... a beautiful boy with a beautiful spirit. He loves music, he laughs at everything, he's always happy. Even after everything he has to go through, he's always happy. We could learn a lot from that boy... I already have.

Life is all about choices... even after everything you have to go through, you still have the choice to be happy. You may not be able to change anything, but you can accept it and choose to be okay with it, and be happy.

Monday, September 12, 2011

EP Card

This card was created for another challenge at The Paper Variety. This challenge is to do a project using at least 70% of your favorite paper company. I've been working with a lot of Echo Park this month, and the only thing not EP in this card is the white cardstock!

Thanks a Bunch

I created this card for the Case Study Challenge blog.

This is the beautiful inspiration card. My card is a very clean and simple version of it, but that's really more my style instead of piling on layer after layer.

Flower Card

I created this card using Echo Park papers and a yellow flower for a challenge at The Paper Variety. The challenge is to do a project that shows off your favorite embellishment - I'm always trying to add flowers where I can, and I think this card really shows off the flower!

Ice Cream Sandwich

I created this layout using Basic Grey paper from several different lines (don't ask me which ones, I really need to start writing this stuff down!!). I created this for The Paper Variety blog - the challenge is to use a favorite photo in your layout. I love these pictures of Liam eating ice cream sandwiches - mostly because this is the only time he ever ate one. We found out later that he was allergic to milk so he can't eat them anymore. I also used a sketch from the Basic Grey blog to create this layout.

Strawberry Brownie Pie

This layout was inspired by a few different projects together. The Paper Variety has a challenge this week to use stamps on your project - the strawberries and the title are both using stamps. At Kitchen Keepsakes, this month's challenge is to do a monochromatic dessert layout... okay, so I have a little green, but really, have you ever seen red strawberry leaves? Finally, over at My Unity Place, the scrapbooking challenge is to use only Itty Bitty stamps (the strawberries) and do a page in a size other than 12x12 - this one is 8 1/2 x11. I hope you enjoy!

Friday, September 9, 2011


So last night I was playing with my August Counterfeit kit, trying to use up the leftovers, when inspiration hit.

This is the Tuesday Trigger from Moxie Fab World. Isn't this just fabulous! I saw that pillow, and looking at my sticker embellishments, immediately came up with this...

Supplies: white cardstock, stickers from For the Record, Echo Park.

September Counterfeit Kit

At the Counterfeit Kit Challenge blog, this month's inspiration kit is the September 2010 kit from Sweet Peach Crop Shop.

I chose the Sweet kit, shown above. The papers are from Sassafrass Lass Indie Girl, so when I was looking through my stash, I pulled out the papers I had from their Life is Beautiful line. I wanted the paper ratio to be the same, so I added a few other papers from Crate Paper, Fancy Pants, and My Mind's Eye that I thought coordinated well. I also added 6 pieces of cardstock in different colors.

For the embelllishments, I went with a few papers filled with alphabets and a rub-on alphabet, I chose a Technique Tuesday calendar stamp, Hero Arts sewing stamp set to match the rub-on stitches in the inspiration kit, some chipboard journalling blocks that match, a few stamps that I'd like to try to use, some prima flowers, and some coordinating ribbon. 

I hope you like my counterfeit kit, and I look forward to using it this month!

For the Record

This is the last layout I did with my August Counterfeit kit... I used the Scrapbook Starting Point from Shimelle's blog.. I love those challenges! I haven't done the journalling yet, still trying to figure out what to say about these pictures...

Just Want to Say

I'm trying to use up the rest of my August Counterfeit kit since I don't have much left. I created this card using sketch #131 at Card Patterns blog. I was saving the bird since it was my favorite sticker and couldn't figure out what to do with it... I love that I can use this card for just about any occasion!

Monday, September 5, 2011

You Make Me Smile

I created this layout using Echo Park papers, and I used sketch 135 from The Scrappiest blog.


I created this layout with Echo Park paper (from my August Counterfeit Kit) using Sketch 250 from Pencillines.

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