Monday, April 20, 2015

How Bad Is It?

This week out of the blue my son ran to his room upset about something. He wasn't public about it. I just happened to notice something was wrong. I followed him to his room to ask him what was wrong.

"It's nothing," he told me; but he was clearly upset and because he was upset I was upset.

"It can't be nothing, sweetheart. I can tell something's bothering you," I encouraged.

"I just want to be left alone," he persisted.

And so we sat for a time, with me prodding and encouraging him to share what was on his mind. And he insisting that he wanted to be alone and that it was nothing. No amount of coercion could encourage him to share. And after a time I let him be.

But while I feel he is old enough to have his privacy in some matters, it left me unsettled and worried.

For several years now, we've been a family of sharers. In fact, I would say my daughter generously shares with her ability to recount her daily activities in nearly play-by-play recitation; and I love it. It gives me a clear picture of how she feels, what she is dealing with, and how her life is going. It makes it much easier for me to understand what is on her mind and what is going on.

But James is a boy, and I suppose boys are by nature non-sharers.

I remember often picking Joey up from school and asking him how his day had gone. "Fine," was the typical response. And that is often all that I got from him.

As Kate prepares to leave this fall for a mission for our church, and I think about the void we will feel without her I admit that I've been looking to James to fill that hole for me a bit.

That is a duty he should not be required to perform. No child should bear that responsibility in a family, but I'll admit that he has many times before. He has a natural ability to lift others' spirits. He can sense other's feelings and draw them out. He comforts us almost without effort. It's a gift he has had since birth.

So now as my not so little son begins to keep more to himself, I'm feeling a little lost as to how to enter his world. How do I comfort the comforter? I want to know what he is thinking, and yet he deserves some level of privacy. It's a conundrum I've yet to answer.

So how bad is it? How bad is it that he wants to be left alone, and I want to pry and meddle until I know his innermost thoughts? It's the constant tug and pull of parenting that leaves me feeling bewildered sometimes as I try to give my children their freedom and yet protect them.

It's a sign he's growing up. It's a sign I'm not yet ready to let go. And yet somehow I can't help but hope we'll meet somewhere in the middle where he shares enough to ease his heart, and I hear enough to ease my own.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Inspiration Station Sneak Peek: Vellum Butterfly Stamped Cloche

I've been wanting to create a cloche to display in my home for a long time now. This week on the "Weekly Scrapper" blog, I'll walk you through how I added the vellum butterflies to a beautiful glass cloche. You can find the complete tutorial on this project HERE.

Last week I shared how I created this layered background Heart card. You can find that tutorial HERE on the Scrapbook Expo blog.

Next week, I'll be sharing a tutorial video so be sure to visit the "Weekly Scrapper" blog next Thursday to view this tutorial.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Machine Stitch a Scrapbooking Starburst

This year as I've been teaching the "Product Playground" scrapbooking class for Big Picture Classes, I'm really thinking about my scrapbooking products in a whole new way. I'm always thinking about new ways to use them in order to get the most out of them. This month I shared a guest blog post on the BPC blog, that shows you how you can use up some paper scraps (or even full pages of patterned paper) to create a starburst effect. Here's a peek at the layout I created:

You can find the complete tutorial HERE on their blog.

If you're interested in learning more ways to stretch your supplies, be sure to watch Lesson 1: Paper Pads with Punch HERE.

Product Playground Paper Pads with Punch by Jen Gallacher

Then watch Lesson 2: Spray Mists and Stencils HERE.

Product Playgroun Stencils and Spray Mists Lesson and Video by Jen Gallacher

In both lessons, I'll walk you through at least SEVEN ways to use these supplies you're likely to have on hand. If you don't have these on hand, these are great videos to watch how you can begin to use them. Look for Lesson 3 coming later this month. You can join in by watching the videos, leaving a comment, or even uploading your own version inspired by the lesson ideas. And as always, I'm giving you #permissiontoplay.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

9 Techniques for Using Ribbons and Rub-ons On Your Layouts

This year in my "Product Playground" class for Big Picture Classes, I've been sharing ways to use up some of your most beloved products. Perhaps you have some of these products currently hiding in your stash waiting for a clever way to be added to your next scrapbook page? In this month's scrapbooking process video, you can watch how I incorporated NINE techniques for using ribbons and rub-ons onto this layout:

Ribbons and Rub-ons to the Rescue Product Playground class by Jen Gallacher for Big Picture classes

You can find the class HERE.

Ribbons and Rub-ons to the Rescue Product Playground class by Jen Gallacher for Big Picture classes

You can also watch the following lessons as part of your membership with Big Picture Classes. You can watch the videos as many times as you'd like.

February: Paper Pads with Punch

Paper Pad with Punch class lesson and video for Big Picture Classes by Jen Gallacher
Watch HERE!

March: Stencils and Spray Mists

Stencils and Spray Mists Scrapbooking Process Video and Class through Big Picture Classes by Jen Gallacher

Watch HERE!

Have a layout you'd like to share? Be sure to upload it to the classroom so I can see it and leave a comment. Have a question or comment? I'd love to hear and read them. Or perhaps you have a suggestion or request for what products you'd like to see me combine? You can leave those in the comments section below.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

21 Lessons My Son Joey Taught Me Before He Passed

Many of you know the story of my oldest son, Joseph. Joey was a beautiful boy who was diagnosed with Cancer in late 2006 and passed away just two weeks after his birthday in April of 2007. (You can read about his incredible story HERE.) Today would have been his 21st birthday. What a milestone that would have been! Hopefully today we can dwell on the happier memories of our time with him rather than the loss of missing him. But I know full well that it's often a mixed bag of emotions on these milestone days.

To celebrate Joey's life, I wanted to remember 21 lessons he taught me before he passed.

1) You can go through anything with dignity. Joey had so much pain and suffering in his life. And yet he never complained. He was always kind, gracious, and thankful to the nurses. I remember one nurse nearly choked up when he thanked her after an especially painful procedure, "You don't need to thank me, sweetheart," she said knowing that it wasn't something you normally thank someone for. I aspire to have Joe's dignity about situations I face in my life.

2) Family is first. Joey was a staunch defender of his family. If you were his friend, you automatically became a member of the family and thus came under his protection. All four of us remember this lesson in a deeper way than we did before we lost him.

3) Live life to the fullest. Joey was sick from the time he was just a few years old. He never let it stop him from going on field trips, participating in school events, vacationing with the family. He wanted to live. I wish he could have lived longer with us (though I would never wish that pain on him again).

4) Leave a legacy of love. Joey shared his love with his family members in many different ways. Shortly before he passed he told each of us that he loved us. He could barely talk at that time. Thank you, Joey, for knowing what we all needed to hear.

5) Have a sense of humor. I have so many photos of Joey in mid-laugh. He loved America's Funniest Home Videos. He could laugh at himself and with others but never at someone. I loved his laugh.

6) Be an example. Joey was an example of so many important qualities. Thus the reason for this list. I don't want to forget the lessons he taught me.

7) Never let your imagination die. Joey had an incredible imagination and was known in all the neighborhoods that we lived for leading the kids on wild adventures. He could take you to any place just be creating a new world through imagination.

8) Work towards an honorable occupation. Joey wanted to be a solider. He actually held daily training exercises for his friends advancing their rankings as they progressed physically and mentally. His best friend currently serves proudly in the military. I'm sure Joey watches over him constantly and is proud of him.

9) Do your best. Joey had lots of reasons not to do well at school. And yet he often was the top of his class. He took pride in doing well and excelling. I was always proud of his efforts.

10) Have faith. Joey never questioned the Lord's plan for him. I suspect that he knew the plan long before we did. I am striving to have more faith.

11) Love animals. We haven't really had many pets. We have too many allergy sufferers in our family. But Joey was always gentle and kind to animals, and they always sensed it.

12) He is always with us. While most of the time I sense he is off working on something important in heaven, I know is he often with us. I also feel that my brother who passed just two years after Joey is often with him. I would like them to be together. They were very close friends.

13) We are meant to be together forever. Losing Joey was such a complete and utter loss. Being away from my child has not grown easier. I think that is a testament to the Lord's plan that we be reunited and live together for eternity. I'm grateful to know I will see him again someday.

14) Life can be unexpectedly short. Don't have regrets. Spend time now saying I love you and soaking up the time together. You never know when you will be called home again. 13 years was far too short for any of us.

15) Home is in the heart. When we moved from the home that would have been Joey's, I was worried that we wouldn't feel him near in our new home. But he is with us always in our hearts. I take him wherever I go and no matter where we end up in live he can and will be with me.

16) It's ok to be afraid. Joey was one of the most courageous people I know. So I was often terrified silently so as to not upset or worry him. But it's normal to be afraid. Sometimes you just have to express it in a way you might not have considered before. I am sure Joey was frightened. I hope he knew that he could have expressed more of that to us. We would have listened and supported him whatever he needed.

17) Be brave. This is the flipside of being afraid. Sometimes you have to suck up the pain and be brave. Not for yourself but sometimes for the good of others. I am courageous when I can and then other times I embrace that I'm afraid. Neither response is wrong. They're just different responses for different times.

18) Play hard. Joey gave it his all even when he was having fun. He loved Legos, Video Games, adventures outside, and hanging out with his friends. He embraced every moment.

19) Super heroes don't always wear capes. Sometimes they wear medical equipment. Sometimes they just wear everyday clothes. But look closely. You're probably surrounded by more of them than you realize.

20) You can never capture enough memories. Don't ever feel like you have to limit the number of photos that you or the number of memories you record. There is no such thing as "too many" after you lose someone you love. Take more and take them often!

21) I love him more everyday. It doesn't matter that he isn't physically here with us any more. I am proud of him. I tell him that often. I tell him nightly that I love him. My feelings for him continue to grow.

Happy birthday, sweet boy. I miss you and hope you feel our love for you always!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Make It Meaningful: Summer Suitcase

We're trying to plan an escape for Spring Break. It seems that it caught us off guard this year. What about you? Any plans to visit someplace special? My preference would always involve a beach. But this year it might involve something more like painting or yard improvements. We'll see. In the meantime, here's a charming little altered Summer Suitcase you could create:

Here's another look at this project:

Like this project? Consider subscribing to my monthly newsletter HERE or in the link in my sidebar on the right. I'll have freebies, video links, workshop updates, and more. Let's spend some time together #makingitmeaningful!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Am I Happy Raising Independent Children?

Not one of my three children ended up being clingy, needy children. Here's where I'd like to tell you that I had everything to do with that. Not likely. Some kids are born with their little fingers tightly hanging onto their Mama's apron strings and some kids seem to snip those strings off just as quickly as they possibly can.

Right now I am the "Middle Motherhood" stage of life. Meaning my kids are old enough to get themselves a drink of water, off to school, dress themselves, and basically fend for themselves for most of their needs; but they still live at home with me (thank goodness since one of them is just about to turn 12, and we wouldn't want him out wandering the streets).

During the "Early Motherhood" stage of life I was constantly meeting needs: feeding, clothing, and caring for three very demanding children. What is this business with requiring three meals each day any way? I was tired (the dark circles under my eyes were proof of that). There were days that ended in tears. Days that escalated into chaotic craziness. It was all day, every minute, non-stop.

Somewhere along the road of my Motherhood journey those needs changed and developed into car pooling, last-minute school projects, pre-date preparations, and less constant hovering and more waiting on the sidelines.

Don't get me wrong. I'm perfectly happy not getting up every five seconds to change a diaper, fix a bottle, pick up a pacifier. I earned my Motherhood Girl Scout Badge, and I'm happy not repeating that stage of my life again.

But something that completely caught me off guard in this new stage of life? I'm a little lonely!

Somewhere along the line, I started judging my success as a mother through a daily checklist of "I've done its." I've done the laundry. Check! I made their school lunch. Check! I combed their hair AND brushed their teeth. Double Check!

But now that these kids seem more than capable of doing most of these things all own their own with a bit of nagging thrown in here and there I just don't feel needed much any more.

And this mama who really believed that when that day came that my kids didn't need me any more I would breathe a huge sigh of relief, is more than a little sad.

Trying to redefine myself in the "Middle Motherhood" stage of life has been challenging. I hover in the wings waiting to see if they need me. And then when they don't, sometimes I feel deflated and hurt. (Let's not tell them that, though, because really I do want to raise independent, strong children.) It's just this feeling that sometimes steals over me and leaves me feeling a bit lost.

I want to connect with my kids. And believe me we do. Our kids tell us everything from what that hot boy in Sociology said to the fact that half the boys in sixth grade still haven't discovered deoderant. Our kids are very close to each other too. We're blessed in that way.

But they still don't need me as much as they once did.

So now what?

Recently I returned from a short weekend work trip. I found each kid on a different TV watching their favorite show, and I got a brief hello and that was it. "They didn't even miss me," I thought. I steeled myself to accept that they are busy enough in their lives and secure enough in their knowledge of my love for them that they are ok. But I was like, "Man, how could you NOT miss me? I am the center of your universe, am I not?" But what's a mom to do, and I moved on to other things.

Later that night we watched a movie together as a family. I snuggled up next to my husband ready to watch the show when our 11 year old squeezed in between us in a space not quite big enough for the two of us to begin with. He couldn't get close enough to me. And sometimes when he's not realizing it, he'll reach out and hold onto my fingers and stroke them on his face. I don't even think he realizes that he's doing it. But somehow it brings him comfort.

The daughter is less open with her affection (I think she gets that a bit from me). But this morning as she prepared for school after missing several days for sickness, I walked her through the medicine choices she could take depending on her symptoms. As I walked away, she piped up, "I would feel better if you scooped it up for me," she said.

She still needs me. He still needs me. And although they might not even admit it or even realize that I am important in their lives, there are little ways they look to me to feel loved and cared for.

I am not forgotten. I am not alone. I have two beautiful children who still want their mom around (even if it's not all the time). So while I'm traversing this "Middle Motherhood" stage of life, I'm going to look for ways to appreciate the way they love and appreciate me now. They are there, they're just more difficult to find than the days when rocking a baby could put them to sleep with a smile on their face. It's less obvious and more difficult to spot the moments when they love and want to be around me.

But it's worth it to look, and I intend to be in their lives for many years to come. So as I transition from one stage of motherhood to the next, I'll continue to work through my loneliness and embrace this new-found freedom. Because in that freedom I'm finding new ways to be their mother.
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