Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Cards for the holidays . . . a few ideas

It is Christmas, or at least the holidays are quickly approaching, and it is time to get the card craze settled. Meaning, I am ruminating about what I want to send out. In fact, this year I might actually do it! I have been inspired by photo cards the past few years and have actually thought a bit, “what would I do?” Last year my friend Linsey sent a postcard, with a picture of her kids on the front, and on the back, the kids were holding their parents in the palm of their hands. Margo asks me all the time, “Mom, are L, B and A giants or did their parents shrink?” Now I am thinking, “hmmm, perhaps our kids really are our giants…” but that is a discussion to be had on the couch with a large glass of wine and my child is sleeping, not for blogging. So this year I want to take the plunge and start looking at the holiday card designs from the new Shutterfly holiday collection, Christmas cards

The cards I enjoy most are those which tell some type of story. No not a traditional story, but a story jumps out at you when you see the photo. For instance, my older sister always has a card with a wonderful photo of the family. But it is not a classic photo, one year Rosie, their family dog was featured in the arms of my god-daughter Clair wearing a pair of shades. One look at this photo, and I am flooded with memories of watching this family growing up over the years. I see the love and fun they have together, a definite joie de vivre, as expressed in a Christmas photo card. I have been browsing this web site, Christmas photo cards and may have discovered a format I can use for my current idea.

My little Margo has become quite the illustrator this year for her ‘books’ which she publishes herself on the computer. Yes she has now ‘published’ three books:

Circles: I am not sure what this one is about because she only created the first page, but it is intriguing with the circles on the cover page.

The forest: is a wonderful story only a 6 year old can tell and illustrate, about a brother and sister deer born on the same day but at different times, learning to live and enjoy the forest. They have learned they can not marry each other so they go and find another deer to marry in the forest. It is all of 5 pages long and very engrossing.

The hanted house: (no that is not a spelling mistake; remember she is only in the first grade.) This is the classic haunted house story, with bats, and red eyeballs, spiders and pillars. Of course it is completely illustrated as well, by my one and only little Margo.

My idea is to use the page of each book as a photo and put these stories as part of our Christmas or New Years greeting. Margo so wants to be published and I think this is a great way to do it. My cards will tell a story, and let everyone know, what is important to our little 1st grader. And I think it will provide a smile on each one’s heart.  I think I have found more than a few cards that would work.  Rough Edge will work perfectly, I place the title page on the front, and then edit the layout inside to fit the rest of the pages and written story.

But now I have been inspired with another card style, “Ten Best Memories New year’s Card.” I could capture the year in photos, and I have a bunch of them from almost every month. So I forget Christmas and focus on New Year’s cards instead. Now that could be different, and it gives me an extra week or so…..hmmmm I am liking this already.  Or I keep it really simple, show off a bit of my french roots with the Noel Christmas Card.
Hey it has Noel in the title, and that is French enough for me, plus it is simple.

Do you want 50 free holiday cards from Shutterfly? Click here to go to Shutterfly for information on how you can get 50 free cards this holiday season, and make sure to select Clever 1000 as the referral source.

This post is part of a series sponsored by Shutterfly. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Missed our camping vacation, so now I am dreaming of the Ultimate family vacation!

Cheerios® is giving you the chance to win a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, your ultimate family vacation. As part of a paid promotion for their “Do What You Love” Sweepstakes, Cheerios® is sponsoring my post today about what my ultimate family vacation would be. Read mine, Enter the Sweepstakes for a chance to actually win your own fantasy family trip or one of a bunch of other great prizes.

We love adventures for our family vacations and you may have read a few of the simple yet satisfying vacations we have taken together, with little Margo.  In fact this past weekend was to be a superb treat, back at Mt. Tamilpais.  The weather was to be clear and warm, just right when hiking or visiting Stinson Beach, however, none of this came close to happening.  Our trip became a return visit to the car shop, because the alternator malfunctioned.  So Mark and little Margo, made a go of camping in the backyard, and I was in charge of kitchen duty and volunteered to watch the inside of the house.  While Mark slept out in the wilds of our 15' X 20' backyard, I dreamed of a better vacation for us; actually an ultimate family you want to come?

Prior to the birth of our daughter some years ago, Mark and I were avid bike riders.  We loved to go on a 40 mile trip in the spring and summer, more than once in a blue moon.  I always entertained the possibility of joining our two passions in one trip.  Wine and bikes, and no not here in California, but all the way in France.  We would ride our bikes during the day, stop at local wine makers along the way, and then eat to our hearts delight at the bistro or restaurant our host village provided.  I would visit the local cafe, order a rich cup-of-joe, with a baguette and cheese of the region trying out my french and being totally content!!!

I know now you are wondering, "but what about your little Margo, she does not drink wine, and who knows if she can ride a bike....."  Ah not to worry, she would love the castles, or chateaus, and the old cobblestone rodes.  There would be opportunities to "pet donkeys at the XVI century farm near the flower and vegetable gardens."  There even would be a hedge maze to try and not get lost in while looking for a path towards freedom.  Heck this is sounding way better than Gilroy Gardens....I mean we could explore the garden's of the kings!  I think we could catch a ride on a hot air balloon just outside Tours for another day adventure.  What 7-year old would want to miss an adventure like this.  And finally, I could bribe my little daughter with fresh chocolate, stinky cheese, and more chocolate, depending upon what village we happen to be visiting that day. 

There is an educational side to this trip too.  The art of the Renaissance period would be all about us at the Chateau de Chenonceau.  I would provide Margo, a drawing pad and pencils to create her own masterpieces for us to enjoy.  And you know what, that is something she would enjoy in every way.  Perhaps we could frame a few of her drawings and show them at a local cafe, just for the experience of her lifetime.  You know she always talks about drawing a picture for an art show...This is France, enjoy the people, the lay of the land, the wine, the creativity, the food, the wine, Oh I said that already.... But you get the idea, this trip would be fantastic.  Hmmm...perhaps I could invite Margo's god-mother and god-father along for the ride.  I love you want to come? 

Don't forget to enter the “Do What You Love” Sweepstakes, for a chance to win your own ultimate family vacation. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.

Friday, October 1, 2010

ROOM, it makes you think about motherhood....

I started reading ROOM, and through the voice of 5 year old Jack, I pondered motherhood.  All kinds of questions flooded my mind, "would I be able to create a safe world for my daughter in an 11 X 11 foot room with a TV?"  Or would I just give up, and allow my child to die?  It was  interesting to watch the instinct or was it desire,  choose life as exhibited in the book ROOM.  I watched our heroine, establish order to everyday, from within her woodshed prison.  She was the picture of motherhood in action.  Some may have disagreed, but I didn't care.  She established a safe haven for her little son Jack, and in many ways for herself as she lived through the 7 years of being held kidnapped.

I talked to a friend who was from Germany, and she told me she thought Room was based on the story of a woman who was imprisoned in a basement for several years.  This captive bore seven children from the continuous abuse by her captor.  She too, as much as our heroine Ma, in ROOM, invented a world that excluded the outside so as to eliminate the claustrophobia, 4 walls created.  I do not know if the author, Emma Donoghue, intended ROOM to mimic true life stories so closely, but somehow it did.

Creating order to a place, creating order in our heart, and providing order to our children has become a mainstay of motherhood.  I never really thought of "order" as being so important to motherhood.  I knew I demanded order for my child's classroom, and yet had been struggling to create order in my own life.   I knew if I lived only in one room with such simple means, I would have created havoc.  My thinking postulated, why should I clean up, who cares, who is coming to visit except my torturer....However, now, my thinking has changed.  Why you might ask?  I had discovered I need order for me; not just for my daughter's sake.  So, I began organizing my house, bit by bit, these past three weeks, and I have gained insight about my house.   As I get rid of the clutter and establish some sense of order about me, I enjoywhere I am.  And surprise, surprise, my little Margo has begun to participate in the ordering process.  Some of her organizing activities were not even requested, but inspired by what has been happening downstairs in our house.  I even read this book, peacefully in my living room, because it was clean and ordered.

"Ma", creates an ordered world for Jack to grow up in, even though it is 11 X 11 feet.  Jack grew, and thinks for himself and developed as a little boy.  I have been  establishing order in my life and as a result I found, my heart is growing and developing, and exploring.  My little Margo, has enjoyed bringing her friends into our home to play.  No longer has my abode been left in disorder, but has experienced creative moments and activities.  Perhaps if we found ourselves imprisoned by our chaos, we could be set free by our acts of order.

I enjoyed reading Room, even though this story described such physcal and emotional hardship, because in the midst of it all, I saw the beauty of motherhood as love, expressing order and peace.

The book ROOM was provided by From Left to Write book club.