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Puppy Update

Posted by Kathy Torrence on Dec 3, 2007 in Our Goldendoodle Puppies

I was looking through my blog and realized that, for one thing, my “About Me” page was REALLY out of date.  I fixed that this morning.

I also realized that I haven’t posted any photos of my puppies in a while.  Daisy is now 10 months old and Geddy is about 8 months old.  They were just groomed the other day and I snapped this photo:

After grooming

Daisy’s beard looks dark in the photo because she just finished drinking some water.  But I got them both to sit so nicely – I had to take the picture!

Here are a few more photos…

Emily and Daisy

 

Daisy-4

That’s Daisy – her fur got REALLY curly after it rained yesterday!

And here’s Geddy in his usual ferocious, aggressive position (NOT!):

Geddy on his belly

I tried to get more photos of Geddy in other positions, but every time I walked toward him with the camera, he just rolled over on his back…sigh…

Geddy is now larger than Daisy – especially after the groomer trimmed most of Daisy’s fur!  She looks very ‘poodle-ish’ now – but is still just as cute.  Geddy has a very mellow personality and Daisy is more like the life of the party. 

They are both great dogs…although we have had a few Christmas ornament issues since we put the tree up…

 
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Christmas Cards

Posted by Kathy Torrence on Dec 3, 2007 in Cards, Crafts

I managed to finish this year’s Christmas cards this weekend.  Well…I use the term ‘finish’ loosely.  They are still not addressed and I am still waiting for the photos to put inside (and of course, I ordered the wrong size photos and will have to crop them when they arrive).  But at least the cards are made, signed and otherwise ready to go.

I made two designs (I didn’t have enough red cardstock to make enough of the first design – poor planning on my part), both very simple:

Embossed Christmas Card

This card is CASEd from Stampin’ Up! Regionals – as soon as I saw it demonstrated on stage, I knew that it was going to be my Christmas card!  The ‘tree’ is dry embossed on vellum using a brass template with a swirl design.  It has some glitter around the edges that doesn’t really show up in this photo.  I was going to add a Christmas sentiment, but I think it looks nice enough just the way it is.

My other simple design:

Joy Christmas Card

This card is also CASEd from SplitCoastStamper user TexasGrammy.  I did a similar CASE of her card back in a previous post and I liked it so much, I decided to use it as an alternate design. 

Now, where are those photos I ordered?….

 
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Happy Anniversary, Michael!

Posted by Kathy Torrence on Dec 3, 2007 in Cards, Crafts, Scrapbooks

Okay, I’m a little late on this one, but last week was so crazy, I haven’t had time to post this until now – sorry, dear!

We celebrated our ninth wedding anniversary last week – I am so grateful for my wonderful husband! We were married in St. Thomas on Thanksgiving weekend nine years ago and hope to go back there someday…maybe on a cruise for our 10th anniversary next year? (hint, hint…)

I made this card for him – he said he thinks it’s one of the best I’ve made (hmmm…not sure about that, but I’ll take the compliment!):

Anniversary Card

I tried to keep it manly but sappy at the same time – not an easy thing to do!

Since money is a bit tight, I also made him an anniversary gift instead of purchasing one.  This was a little out of my comfort zone, but I wanted to try something new.  It’s a box that also has a scrapbook on the lid…

Box top

Again, I tried to keep the design manly by using the “Serengeti” kit from Club Scrap to make and decorate the box – and I mean I actually made the box.  I painted  all of the cardboard pieces and adhered them together with glue to form the actual box.  Then I covered the box with paper and added the lid and scrapbook (which is also made from scratch – in the kit, you get the pieces, posts and page protectors, but you have to paint, cover and assemble the whole book including the hinge).  I filled the book with some photos from our camping trips – he can use the box portion on his desk to hold little mementos.

Scrapbook inside

Happy anniversary, Michael – I love you!!!!!

 
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Enough of That!

Posted by Kathy Torrence on Dec 3, 2007 in Crafts, Jewelry

Okay – enough of that serious, self-reflective hooey in my previous post – who wants to read that type of stuff all the time? 😉

In general, I’m a pretty positive person. The way you ‘hear’ me talking on my blog – that’s how I speak in real life. I’m not going to pretend to be something I’m not – my life’s not perfect. My kids aren’t little angels. My crafts aren’t the most ‘artsy’. My thoughts, ideas and words are not always that deep and meaningful.

But I do try to approach everything with a sense of humor mixed with a little sarcasm for good measure. I’m convinced that laughter can get you through any situation. It’s easy to sit and complain, to criticize and to always run at a stress level that will drive you – and everyone around you – nuts.  But to point out the absurdities in life and just have a good laugh – that’s what will get you through your days with your sanity and maybe even a little smile, too.

I think I’m going to continue to post my crafts and cards, but I’m only making them for myself and for gifts – no class ideas or items to sell…what a relief! :)

So here are some jewelry pieces that I made for myself this weekend.

Jade and carnelian necklace and earrings

This necklace is made from Chinese new jade, carnelian and African ocean jasper. There are also some pieces of red jasper on the earrings as well. I wrapped a piece of antiqued silver filigree around the jade focal point and inserted my eye pin through the hole to secure it. I also used a few more filigree connectors – I had fun with this!

I also made one more piece for myself:

Turquoise and pearl necklace

For this necklace, I took an African turquoise long bead and wrapped it with an antiqued filigree piece. I added some blue freshwater pearls and amazonite along with some black glass faceted beads. I still need to make a pair of earrings to go with this, but I’m in “holiday craft mode” right now.

I’m finding that I really like playing with jewelry pieces – especially with the beautiful beads and natural gemstones that are available now! It’s the same idea of adding color and creating a pleasing design just like any other craft medium. Again, my pieces may not be artsy or professional-looking, but at least I’m having fun and making something pretty for myself at the same time…

 
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Change Is Inevitable

Posted by Kathy Torrence on Dec 3, 2007 in Family Stuff

“If we can recognize that change and uncertainty are basic principles, we can greet the future and the transformation we are undergoing with the understanding that we do not know enough to be pessimistic.” — Hazel Henderson

I’m not a big fan of change. And I’ve certainly gone through some big changes in my life. At the time, many of them seemed intimidating, if not impossible. But when I now look back with the benefit of hindsight, I can see that most of them led to something wonderful – different, but wonderful.

I am about to undertake some major changes in my life. And I’m sure that they too, will eventually lead to something wonderful. Unfortunately, as I stand on the edge of these changes without the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, I’m just not sure what that ‘wonderful’ will be.

I just have to put my faith in God and know that He has a plan for me. Being the control-freak that I am, I wish I could know exactly what that plan is; but for now, I have to be content with the fact that I am not actually in charge (no matter how much I kid myself that I am) and that these changes will lead me to live out my purpose.

So here we go – I am hoping to return to work part-time after the beginning of the new year. Not as an artist, jewelry designer, design team member or professional stamper (if there is such a thing) – but as a software engineer. My education and professional experience are in software engineering, and I think it’s time to return to my field.

Emily is in kindergarten now and I must contribute not only to our family income, but also to my own personal and professional development. I don’t have a firm job offer yet, but I have been investigating several leads and I hope that one will soon develop into a software engineering position for me at the FAA Technical Center.

I will also continue to teach the Computers and Society course at Rowan University. I have re-discovered how much I enjoy teaching and have committed to teach this course again during the spring semester.

That’s correct – in one year, I may go from being a full-time stay-at-home mother to a working mother with two jobs. Now that’s change.

Perhaps the engineering position will not develop – maybe I will not receive a job offer. And that’s okay – it’s part of the “me not being in control” mantra I mentioned earlier. But have I mentioned that I’m also not a big fan of uncertainty?

But wait. I have another change. Regardless of the job outcome, I have decided not to continue as a business-oriented Stampin’ Up! demonstrator. I will remain as a ‘hobby’ demonstrator and will still be able to take orders, but I will no longer hold stamp clubs, classes, or workshops.

Obviously, if I do get a software engineering position, I will not have the extra time required to prepare for these events. But even if I do not get a position, I still feel it’s time to move on.

I put a great deal of time, energy and money into preparing for my classes. But the end result is no longer gratifying. I make very little monetary profit from these events, if any at all. In fact, I actually spend more money as an active demonstrator just to keep the newest products and other needed supplies on hand.

Many members of my stamping group have now reached the point where they don’t need me to demonstrate projects or techniques for them anymore. They are perfectly capable of finding them online, in magazines or books and figuring them out for themselves – which is great, don’t get me wrong – I love to see their own creativity blossom.

It is, however, somewhat disheartening to put a large amount of effort into preparing for classes and then receive criticism about my work. Maybe I’m just not cut out for the world of subjective art – it’s too personal for me.

I have to admit, it was very encouraging to interview for software engineering positions and feel as though I truly have something to offer to an employer and that they, in turn, can appreciate all I have to offer. I have years of experience working in software project management, development and maintenance and can apply this experience to a variety of engineering positions. As I spoke with the various groups, I felt confident for the first time in a very long time.

I felt the same confidence when I began teaching again – I realized that I could offer my experience and insight to students that were about to graduate and enter the field of software engineering. I remember when I mentioned to someone in town that “My students actually look up to me like I am someone.” The person replied, “Wait until they find out that you’re not.” Ouch.

As a stay-at-home mother, our actions are most often not appreciated. Our work is endless, non-stop and we are usually taken for granted. The end result of doing a good job is not seen for years and years and even then, we second-guess ourselves as to whether or not we have actually succeeded. We always feel that we could have done a better job.

But as an engineer, we have tangible, concrete results for our actions. We receive job reviews and pay raises to prove that we are doing well in our job. Not to mention the financial benefits from working as an engineer – a large part of why I am even considering returning to work.

Through the years, I have been either a full-time working parent, a part-time employee or a full-time stay-at-home mom. I have seen all sides of the dilemma and know that none of them are perfect. As a full-time working parent, you feel guilty that you should be at home with your children. As a stay-at-home mom, you feel guilty that you should be contributing to the family income. And even as a part-time employee, you feel guilty that you’re not doing either job as well as you could.

But the most difficult critic that we find as mothers is other women. Stay-at-home moms criticize working moms for not spending enough time with their children. Working moms criticize stay-at-home moms as ‘lazy’. Is it no wonder that we feel guilty all the time?

I wish that women could support and encourage other women to do whatever works best for them. Some moms don’t have a choice but to work – others don’t have a choice but to stay home.

Consider a mother who gives up her valued career because she feels that it is the ‘right thing’ to stay home with her children. What if she comes to resent her children and remains angry and bitter during the time she spends with them? Wouldn’t it be better for the children to live with a fulfilled, content mother who gains strength and confidence from her career?

On the other hand, consider a mother who forces herself to work so that she can continue to live a certain lifestyle. She may spend her time at work longing to be living a simpler life at home with her children. Wouldn’t it be better for her children to live a life without extravagant extras so that she could live a fulfilled life with them?

I always encourage my college students to consider that decisions in life are rarely a simple “black-and-white” evaluation – most situations remain in shades of gray. I’m going to try to embrace the grayness of my situation and let it work out the way it is meant to be..

“That’s the risk you take if you change: that people you’ve been involved with won’t like the new you. But other people who do will come along.” — Lisa Alther

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