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Card Kit Club Time!

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My time has been pretty limited since Caleb had major surgery, but that doesn't mean I haven't spent some time being creative. Nothing makes me relax as much as spending time in my craft room, playing with paper, stickers, scissors, ink and stamps. The week after Christmas, I got some time to play with the latest installment of my Stamps of Life Card Kit Club, and this is what I created:









If you like making cards, you should go to The Stamps of Life website (thestampsoflife.com) and check out their kits. They are a great deal and are so much fun! 
What cards have you made? Post photos of your favorite card creations in the comments by February 28, 2018 and one lucky person will win a Stamps of Life stamp /die set. 

Vikings Fan

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In the Cunniff home we've been faithful Vikings fans. That was Dave's team and the boys and I have continuted to root for them, even though we've taken some slack for it. Shortly after Dave died, his sergeant stopped by the house and saw me wearing Dave's Vikings sweatshirt. He teasingly said that Dave would tell me I had suffered enough and could take off the sweatshirt!
After their win last Sunday, we're proud to have been unwavering Minnesota Viking fans - and I've got multiple scrapbook layouts to prove it! These photos were taken in 2012. Dave had four Vikings hats that he rotated wearing. The boys knew they were Vikings hats and that they were Daddy's. But that did not stop Zach from stealing this particular colorful cap (hence the grin) and wearing it the same way he saw Daddy wear it.
When the boys went through Waveriders, our local Hospice's grief counseling program for children, they made up memory boxes. Both boys chose one of the four Vikin…

It's All Behind Us . . .

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Well another Christmas season has come and gone but more importantly, Caleb's spinal fusion surgery is behind us. It's been five weeks and Caleb is doing amazing! The first couple of weeks were difficult. It was so hard to see Caleb in so much pain, but after the two week mark his recovery got so much easier.  
The first mornig Caleb was in ICU, his surgeon came and asked him how he was doing. Caleb's reply was, "This is worse than common core math." That gave everyone a good laugh! If you know Caleb, you know that math is the "bane of his existence" as he fourth grade teacher so eloquently said. So for something to be worse than math says a lot.
I did take some pictures of this journey. I want to be able to show Caleb how far he's come. They are not scrapbooked yet, but eventually they will make it into the albums because they tell the story of his life and this has been a pretty major chapter.

I thought I'd share some of the photos with you. T…

A Season of Peace & Hope

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Today I do not have a layout to share but this powerful painting. I have a copy of  this painting on a postcard that my grandmother gave me back in 2008. I thought I had lost it, but two weeks ago I found it while I was sorting old photos. The irony of finding this now is that Caleb is scheduled for surgery this coming Monday, December 4th.
Caleb is having spinal fusion surgery to correct a severe scoliosis curve in his spine. When he was diagnosed with SMA back in 2009, the neurologist told Dave and I so many scary things that would happen, one of them being scoliosis. Children who battle neuromuscular diseases and live in wheelchairs are more likely to develop scoliosis, and once it hits a certain degree curve, surgery is the only option. I spent the past year getting second and third opinions, talking to specialists and fighting the insurance company to get the best possible surgeon and medical team to care for Caleb, which means we leave tomorrow for Rochester. 
This is a major s…

"Mom, why do you scrapbook?"

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One night I was working in my new craft room, stamping and scrapping away the stress of a busy weekend when I heard grunting and groaning behind me. Zach was pulling a kitchen chair, a stack of notebook paper, and his box of crayons into my room and proceeded to set up on the other side of my already crowded scrap table. He didn't ask if he could join me, and I hadn't invited him. His thought process was he had a project and I would help him.
He got right down to business, creating a comic book very similar to the Captain Underpants book he had recently been reading. He was proud of his creation and was focused and working hard. He worked in silence, despite my attempts at conversation, so I turned Project Runway back on and got back to my work.
A couple minutes later when he was done with the outline of his Captain Diaper character and had started to color it in he asked me, in a very serious voice, "Mom, why do you scrapbook?"
I had one of those moments. You know …

Brotherly Love

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Ah, brotherly love . . . who can't relate to the bottom photo on this layout? There's nothing quite like the relationship between siblings. One minute you're best friends, and the next you want to strangle your brother or sister!
Caleb and Zach have an extremely close relationship. They are best friends! When Caleb was first diagnosed, and we realized how much help he would need with everything, we worried about the dynamic between brothers. We were concerned that Zach might resent all the attention Caleb would get just simply on the basis he needed it. To add insult to injury, Dave and I were encouraged not to have any more children because SMA is a genetic disorder. 
While we know many families that have gone on to have additional children - some completely healthy, other affected with SMA - we made the decision not to have any more kids. I was heart broken at first, but when we realized that Zachary had some special needs of his own that completely differed from Caleb&…

Grief Comes in All Shapes & Sizes

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I posted this picture on Facebook back in May of 2014. We were in Washington DC for Police Week and this was Zachary minutes before leaving the hotel for the Police Memorial Ceremony at the Capitol. I was waiting for the elevator with both boys, and then I panicked because I couldn't find Zach - I turned around and he was back by our hotel room door. It was early in the morning, too early, and it was a hot and humid and we had to dress up. Zach was acting how we all were feeling, and let's face it, this picture is adorable!
Police Week was a pretty intense experience for all of us. The NY State Police made it possible for Dave's family, my parents and the boys and I to go to Washington D.C. to attend the annual C.O.P.S. (Concerns of Police Survivors) Conference. There was something comforting about being around other families that experienced the same type of loss we had, but at the same time, it ripped open scabs that had barely begun to heal. 
As hard as it was to lose …