Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Grass Is Always Greener...

This layout popped into my mind one morning as I was getting ready for the day. It's very representative of where I'm at in my life right now.

The journaling reads:
When the boys were little I craved privacy and solitude because I had so little of it. Now that they're grown I have an abundance of alone time, and sometimes I'd like to go back to those crazier times. Just sometimes...

Side note: Usually I have a photo and then the layout idea grows from there, but this time I had to create the photo (although I did have a particular picture in my head of how it should look). I went for a hike in the Bedford Metropark and followed a trail that led down to Tinker's Creek.
My first series of photos (not used here) were taken at a large tree that had fallen and semi-blocked the path. I placed my camera at the root end of the trunk, set the timer, and then sat down farther down the tree and facing out over the gorge. I did like how some of them turned out, but wanted to try some other scenes, too. I kept walking till I got down by the river.
Next I tried to set up a shot where I was sitting on a rock looking out over the river. I had my tripod, and set it and my camera up behind me. But because of trees and bushes and a tiny inlet behind the rock, I couldn't get to the rock and sit down in the 10 second time limit, so I had to scrap that one.
I finally settled on just sitting on the ground, gazing out over the river. I like how this one turned out - it captured the message I was trying to convey. A little tweeking in Lightroom (adjusting lights and darks and a little desaturation), and I was set.

I did the layout for a Guided Design class at Get It Scrapped, and I must say I agonized over the placement of the design, but I'm thrilled with the final outcome :D

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Why I Scrapbook

I love to scrapbook, but not everyone can understand why. Maybe this photo will help me explain. 

Twenty years from now (or maybe even now!), someone might run across a picture such as this one and wonder WHAT in the world they were doing! But not everyone may remember the story behind a picture, even if they were there!

This photo is a good example. It’s definitely one of those photos where you know there’s got to be a story behind it!

In this case I asked the boys about this picture. Zack (who is in the photo) didn’t remember the story, but he did say it’s an awesome picture! Nate also couldn’t remember, but said he was pretty sure he helped. Evan also wasn’t sure what the story was. Fortunately Aaron, who was older,and who had actually seen Star Wars, was able to give me a lot more information about what led up to the picture and explain what was going on, and thus I was able to document the story.

My parents have a ton of pictures, and they know who is in most of them and what is happening. But virtually none of these stories are written down, and unless the stories are passed on they will eventually be lost.

So, it’s not just about nice paper and fun embellishments.
It’s not even just about putting pictures in a book.
It’s about preserving stories and memories that might otherwise be lost.

Ok, I know I've piqued your interest so here's the layout I did telling the story behind the photo:

Friday, February 17, 2012


Winning isn't everything, and it certainly is NOT the only thing! And I would even argue that it's not the most important thing. I was reminded of that fact when talking with someone recently about Zack's gymnastics and then again when talking with Zack about his essay for a college scholarship.

Zack has been in gymnastics since he was three years old---over 15 years. He's never been the best, and has sometimes been among the worst competing. So we (including Zack) tend to get a false sense of his actual accomplishments. Even when he was Region 5 High Bar champion as a Level 8, we tended to downplay it and put it in perspective since the best guys his age were already Level 10s. We tend to always compare him to the guys he's competing with and with his older brothers, and while it's fine to keep things in perspective, we also underestimate how good an athlete he really is compared to the general population.

Everything he's done since the day he was put on the Level 4 team as a 7-year-old is difficult to do, from the most basic swing on parallel bars and pommel horse to just holding himself in a support on rings. Most 18-year-old guys, even a lot of really good athletes, would not be able to walk in off the street and do a tiny fraction of what Zack does almost every day.

So we lose sight of how good an athlete he really is. Zack may not win many awards and will struggle to qualify to Nationals. But he's still accomplished MUCH over the years. He's stronger physically and mentally for the work he's put in and the competitions he's done. And that doesn't even include the character that's been built by sticking with it for 15 years and learning to rely on internal rather that external rewards.

Zack is strong and fit and prepared to face his future, and we are so proud of him!

School Days

I ran across this article that I had tucked away last summer that profiles the elementary school that I attended, as it would be permanently closing at the end of the school year. Although I wasn't familiar with many of the people interviewed for the article, it brought back a lot of memories of my school days there. (And Mr. Anonich, who is in the photo, was my principal, at least for my latter years there.)

I can still picture walking up the big, wide staircase at the front entrance to Lincoln School. I can picture the hallways, the classrooms, the gym, the playground, even the bathrooms. I remember the janitor's closet that had the milk cooler where the "milk helpers" would go to get the half-pint cartons of milk for the class at milk break (I loved that job and can still remember the smell!). I think it was 1¢ for white milk and 1-½¢ for chocolate milk - we paid by the month. And I remember as a 4th and 5th grader going down in the basement to the janitor's room to use the fun eraser cleaning machine. It was a little creepy getting there, but a great place to be as we had the nicest janitor; I don't remember his name (Bill, maybe?), but I can still picture his friendly face. And I remember the little tiny drinking fountain that even I had to lean over to use!

I had awesome, kind teachers there, although I must admit that I, like most others kids there, was afraid of the principal, Mr. Anonich, until I had him as a teacher for 5th grade. I think he liked having that scary image since it kept kids in line! but he really was not mean. He was just tough, and we wanted to earn his approval. I loved my teachers (well, almost all of them - Miss Johnson was scary and pronounced my name wrong part of the time!), and I got a good solid education. I have wonderful memories of Lincoln School and wish I could walk the halls one last time.

(Layout done for LOAD 212 - Day 11 - School Days)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

My Favorite Memory

Many of my most vivid and favorite memories of my childhood revolve around the family vacations that we took. These memories were sparked this past spring and Thanksgiving when, at my request, my parents pulled out old slides so that I could scan them to digital.

I remember the usual: kids bickering and Dad threatening that "we did NOT want to make him stop the car right here!" I also remember that my dad hated to have the windows open, especially the back ones (and we did not have air conditioning), so we generally suffered in the heat, only using the air vents to get fresh, cooler air.

But I also remember little details like my little brother having a very mild case of measles when we were at Disneyland (he got them from me but also had gotten vaccinated before we went). I'm also told that the same little brother and I swung out over a deep canyon on a fire tower crossbar in the Badlands when we were 2 and 4 yrs old. (My parents DID stop us!) I remember seeing the Badlands, Carlsbad Caverns, and the Grand Canyon. I remember waking up in the car in the middle of the night and seeing all the lights of Las Vegas (it actually was fairly small back then, but still had LOTS of neon lights). I remember staying in a motel only once - it was a Holiday Inn and all four of us kids slept in one bed. (We usually stayed with relatives or friends of my parents.) I remember that there were snow flurries in June when we saw Old Faithful and that there were HUGE snowbanks in Glacier National Park, even in the middle of summer, but that it was REALLY hot at the Joshua Tree National Monument. I remember cherry picking in Door County, WI, and seeing the Green Bay Packers practicing, and NOT wanting to swim in the Great Salt Lake. I remember travelling east for the first time when I was 17, and seeing things in east coast cities that I honestly thought only happened on TV, but that are really just daily life there. (To me it was a foreign culture!) I remember meeting cousins in California and Washington, and in high school visiting cousins along the east coast.

And all in all I have very fond memories of those family times. I know they stretched my parents financially, but I can't imagine having gone through childhood without them, and I'm grateful to my parents for giving us those experiences. They instilled in me a lifelong love for travel.
 (Journaling for layout for LOAD212 #10 - My favorite memory...)

Home Sweet Home

If home is where the heart is, then I must admit my heart is a bit divided right now.

I grew up in northern Wisconsin, and will always be a Wisconsin girl at heart. I love the small town, the friendliness, the strong conservative values, even the weather. It shaped a lot of who I am (for better or worse), and I often miss it.

I've lived in Ohio since college, so I've been here all of my adult life. It's where Pat and I started as a couple and where we raised our boys. We've lived in the same house for 25 years, and it's where our boys come home to. I like our house, clutter and all (most of the time), and our neighborhood. We live in a very quaint old community with a lovely downtown area and great metroparks. The weather is not bad---at least it has four seasons, none of which have terrible extremes---so it's certainly tolerable.

Yet now, as three of our four boys are in college in Minneapolis, I find that a part of my heart has followed them. I love to visit them and find myself feeling more and more at home there. I feel fortunate that, so far, all of them have chosen the same city. In the future things could change---Evan is getting married and getting a job (hopefully) and who knows where that will be? And although it looks as though Zack will also head off to Minneapolis for college, he could also end up in Pennsylvania.

For my own sake, I hope that they all stay in the same area. If not, I'll cope...I'll just divide my heart again.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

I always thought...

that I'd be a career woman. My mom always worked as I was growing up (later I learned it was because she had to), and I always planned to also. I had a B.S.-Math degree and a MBA, and I enjoyed my work as a statistician/research analyst.
     But two miscarriages the year before my first son was born made me ralize just how lucky I was to be having a child, and it made me want to be at home with him. And Pat was in total agreement, since his mom had always been at home. Three more sons and 24 years later, I know it was the best decision I ever made. Although days could be crazy, and sometimes I felt like being in an office might be easier, I wouldn't change it for the world! It allowed me to see every "first" and all of the day-to-day and eventually to homeschool all of them through high school.
     I'm glad I got the education I did in college, and I'm glad that I got to use it directly for a few years. But I'm super glad that I "gave it up" to raise my boys. It's not the life I envisioned, but SO much more!

(This was done for LOAD212 in response to the journaling prompt "I always thought..." on day 7 - 2/7/12.)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

A note about Zack

For the past year or so Zack has found himself in an unusual situation at church. In the past he's always been "the youngest Fortunato." But due to circumstances that I won't go into here, he now has a group of friends that don't know his older brothers. As far as they're concerned, he's an only child.

I asked him once what he thought about that: Is it good or bad? He said a little of both. The negative side is that when he talks about his brothers and stuff they've done together, there's no frame of reference since they don't know his brothers. But on the other hand, he's kind of enjoying being known as his own person and making his way on his own.

My first post - a way to protect my journaling from theft

Someone broke my car window and stole my journal and a cheap totebag. There were tons of valuable things in my car that were left alone (thankfully!), but they stole this cheap totebag that I got for free. All that was in it was two books on CD from the library, one of which wasn't even all there (and which I'll eventually have to pay for), and a journal/sketchbook/list keeper - something that is totally worthless to anyone but ME. When I finally realized that it was gone, it made me MAD, especially since I figure it ended up in a garbage can down the street. Grrr... guard against losing all those thoughts again, I've decided to duplicate the journaling on least occasionally. I know that it's not fool-proof, but it's one more line of defense. AND I'll also make sure there is NOTHING in sight in my car that might even remotely look interesting to a thief!