Monthly Archives: January 2011

Scrapbook Those Christmas Cards

The decorations are finally down and back in the attic.  The Christmas CD’s have been stored until next year.  And the Holiday cards are….oh, what to do with the holiday cards?  The guilt that is caused by throwing them away is just too much to bear.  Why not make a scrapbook for them?   It’s a fabulous way to not only preserve your friends and family, but a great way to watch how they are changing from year to year.  I find it fun to see how much the kids have grown!

Depending on what part of the country you live in, it’s been a very cold and snowy winter.  So whittle away some of the time being stuck in the house by creating one of these Christmas Card Scrapbooks.   Where I live, the snow will not be gone until June!  No, I mean it.  Take a look for yourself…

our deck furniture...I think

there's a mailbox in there somewhere

Now, for what this blog is really about, here is a Christmas Card layout I created this afternoon:

This is a double-layout.  Notice that I had to cut up the bottom cards on each page for them to fit.  I separated them with a piece of green scalloped border.  The die cuts (“Family”, “Friends”, the tree and the tag) were made using the Silhouette Digital die cutting machine.  I “blinged” out the tree using BoBunny Buttons & Bling


Age 17 – My First Real Loss


Grandma & Grandpa in the early days

I had never lost someone close to me.  I knew my grandmother was sick, but I wasn’t prepared to lose her.  My grandmother was funny, stubborn, had a strong faith and was full of life.  Unfortunately, she was also a chain smoker.  I mean that in every sense of the word.  I remember visiting my grandparents and she would literally have a cigarette in her mouth from the moment she woke at 5am while saying her Rosary to the moment she went to bed at night.  If I didn’t actually witness her lighting her cigarette with the previous one, I would not have believed it.


Unfortunately, it eventually caught up with her.  Ironically, when she was diagnosed, she had already quit.  Years before that, she had stopped cold turkey.  It’s funny how someone who smoked the way she did could just wake up one morning and decide not to ever pick up another cigarette again.  And she never did.

Grandma in Italy prior to her diagnosis


The cancer engulfed one of her lungs and she had to have it removed.  It took a couple of years for it to hit her second lung.  It was soon after the second diagnosis that she succumbed to the disease.  It’s almost as if she just gave up, I remember how she didn’t fight.

I very vividly remember the day I got the news of her death.  I had just exited the shower and was standing in the bathroom with a towel around myself when the phone rang.  My father called from the hospital to say she had passed away.  I remember sinking to the floor upon hearing the news and sobbing.  I had never lost anyone before and I didn’t know what to do or how to handle it.  I was absolutely terrified of attending the services.  I remember feeling so vulnerable and helpless.

My aunt, who is only 11 years older than me, was engaged to be married.  My grandmother used to joke that they would have to push her in a wheelchair down the aisle because my aunt and her fiancée were waiting so long to marry.  After all, she was the last out of 7 children to receive the sacrament.  Ironically, they were wed one week after grandma’s burial.  As sad as we were, the wedding went on because that’s what she would have wanted.  Her presence was very much felt that day.

I think of my grandmother quite often.  I pray to her.  Sometimes I see her in my daughter.  Sometimes I feel like she is my daughter’s guardian angel.  Just a hunch.

As Recording My Youth comes to a close, I reflect on my childhood and what memories have come forth.

For years, when I thought back to my childhood, I always thought everyone grew up like me.  I thought everyone’s dad was in the Army and moved all over.  I thought everyone went garbage picking.  I thought everyone had a nutty mom.

We struggled financially, but my parents always managed to keep a clean and sturdy roof over our heads, food on the table and clothes on our backs.  My brothers and I never thought for a second that my parents didn’t have much money.  We were supplied a wonderful upbringing with great memories to last a lifetime.

I tell my daughter all the time how different my upbringing was from hers.  She thinks I had a sad childhood when I recount my stories to her, but she couldn’t be more wrong.  It was wonderful, every bit of it.  I’m so happy to have had this opportunity.  Thank you, Janna!

Age 14/15 – Testing the Waters

I like to refer to my 14th and 15th years as the “dirt” years, because I was always grounded.  It was during this period that I really started to test the waters.  Meaning, I gave my parents a run for their money.  I wasn’t a terrible teenager, I knew girls who were much worse than me.  I just liked to see what I could get away with, which, it turned out, was not much.

That being said, I remember one particular evening that started out as an innocent sleepover in the basement of one of my friend’s house.  Another girl (let’s say Lisa) and I were invited to stay over.  Karen’s parents must have a lot of trust in their daughter, because they allowed us to stay in her finished basement that had sliding glass doors – to the outside.

It turned out that those sliding glass doors were too much of a temptation.  We tried to keep busy by watching some late night television, but those darn doors were calling our names.  About a mile away from Karen’s house were condominium units that housed Lisa’s boyfriend.  She got the great idea that we should all take a walk over to see him.  Being silly 14 year olds, we all thought it was a great idea.  I mean, it was better than watching reruns of the “I Love Lucy” show.  So, we put on our shoes and started the trek through town.  We got about half way there when we were stopped by a police cruiser.  I didn’t really understand what was wrong with what we were doing.  It was only about midnight, the street lights were on, and no one else was out, so it was totally safe…wasn’t it?  Anyway, he asked the three of us to get into the car, we were going “down to the station.”  I had a complete and total meltdown.  I was being arrested.  I was 14 years old and my life was over.  When we got to the station, the police officer started writing something on a white card.  I asked him what he was doing and he replied that he was filling out my JD card.  Oh no, I was going to be classified as a Juvenile Delinquent!  My record was going to be marred!  I’d never get into college; I’d never be able to get a job.  Now I knew my life was over.  Of course, the nice officer was just trying to scare the you-know-what out of me and he was succeeding.  Next, I had to deal with mom and dad.  That didn’t go over too well.  I think I was grounded for a year.

During my 15th year, I was grounded for having a bad report card.  During this period of “groundage”, I received an invitation to attend a sleepover party.  I begged and begged my mom to just let me go to this one party and I’ll never ask to do anything else again, but she wouldn’t lift the punishment (she was so mean…when I grew up, I was going to let MY daughter do whatever she wanted – stay out late till all hours of the night, go to any party she wanted, chaperoned or not, ride in cars with boys.  What was the big deal???).  I absolutely had to go and no one was going to stop me.  So, I wrote a nice “run-away” letter to my parents that described to them that I was not going to go to that party, but I was going to go away to “think and be alone”.  It’s makes me blush when I think of it.  It’s funny to imagine my pre-teen daughter pulling that one in a couple of years.  She’s not that naïve.

When I got off the bus on that fine Friday afternoon, I packed an overnight bag and walked to my best friend’s house who lived about a mile away.  I remember sneaking into her room via her bedroom window and took refuge in her closet until it was time to go.  Luckily, we were able to persuade the birthday girl’s mother to pick us up there.  That poor unsuspecting woman had no idea that she was an accomplice to a run-away.  After what seemed like hours, I climbed out of my hiding spot and out the window I went.

The evening started out very uneventful, until we went to the roller rink for a little skating.  There I saw my brother Eddie who promptly informed me that mom and dad were worried sick and reported me missing to the cops.  He proceeded to tell me that they had every police officer in town knocking on every door that evening looking for me.  He was either a great actor or I was as naive as they come – I tend to think the latter.  My night was ruined.  Just like that.  I looked over my shoulder every 5 minutes.  At this point, my friend’s mom knew that I was a run-away but kept up the charade until morning.  Going home that next day was not fun.  My dad took the door off my bedroom and it remained that way for months.  I couldn’t go anywhere for what seemed like years.  I never ran away again, but I did continue to “test the waters.”  I recall being grounded more times than not.  It was a joke among my friends.  Would I ever learn?  Nah, it was way too much fun.