Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Do You Want to Build a Snowman?

This was a fun layout to make and it was published in CREATE magazine. I'm obsessed with The Stamps of Life products and am in their monthly stamp club. Every month on the first, a new stamp set is mailed out, and these adorable snowman stamps were one of the monthly shipments. I fell in love with it, and knew exactly how I was going to use them!

To truly appreciate this layout and know how special it is, I just have to brag for a minute. . .  Caleb has THE BEST therapists. I cannot tell you how much we love these dedicated women who come into our home, and not only join us in our fight to keep Caleb's muscles as strong and functional as possible but become part of our family. When Dave died, it was some of them I called first to help take care of the boys while I had to make arrangements and just survive. There are not enough words to explain how much we love and are grateful for Leigh, Colleen, Sylvia, Jennifer, Nora, Ashley, Linda, Maryl & Julie. In the midst of an awful disease, they have become some of the biggest blessings!

With that being said, this therapy session was so much fun that I just had to take pictures! Caleb's occupational therapist, Jennifer, made a huge dice, but instead of numbers each side had a snowman "accessory". You could roll a hat, mitten, scarf, carrot nose or coal buttons. You had to put on whatever you rolled and the first person decorated in snowman apparel won the game. Caleb had no idea he was actually working on dressing himself, which is one his therapy goals. Both Caleb and Jen looked adorable as the game progressed, and (Surprise!) Caleb won.

I thoroughly enjoyed watching this game. With a power wheel chair Caleb is very limited when it comes to playing in the snow. He's never been able to build a real live snowman. This was the next best thing!

If you would like to check out The Stamps of Life monthly stamp club I mentioned, follow the link. This is my all time favorite stamping company!

Monday, January 4, 2016

"I'm So Escited!"

It's a new year and that means New Year's Resolution time. One very important resolution I made is to scrapbook more! In all reality I didn't get much chance to scrapbook in 2015, and I didn't take the thousands of pictures I usually do - maybe only 3,000 - not counting the 1,600 I took during our week at Disney. Believe it or not, that is way below my average. 

In the little time I did get to scrapbook I made this page. So far, it's the only picture I have scrapbooked of our week in Florida, courtesy of the organization Baking Memories 4 Kids. I can't wait to get going on that album - I have big plans for it! 

This photo was taken at Lego Land. We were waiting in line to ride the Dragon Roller Coaster (for the second time) and in characteristic Zach style, he could not be still. He kept saying over and over, "I'm so escited!" He turned to me, half jumped up on me, half hugged me and screamed again, "I'm so escited!"

I wanted to do a page just of this photo to always remember my Zach Attack as his love of roller coasters was born! I'm so glad my mom had the camera and was able to capture this sweet moment in time. 

Scrapbooking Tips

For the title of this layout I quoted Zachary. He's been in speech therapy for four years, but he still mispronounces words, and I find it adorable. I don't ever want to forget how he said things because as his therapy continues there are fewer words like this. So when I need to title a page I try, as much as possible, to incorporate these expressions.

Another go-to technique I use all the time is cutting apart seldom used letters to make an apostrophe. One of the biggest frustration with letter stickers is they never give you enough e's, a's or punctuation. I had already used all the apostrophes so I cut apart a "x" to make do. If I hadn't pointed it out, you would have never noticed, would you?

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Gray Rider

Here's another layout featuring my Zach Attack, this time he's dressed up and posing. I snapped these pictures of him outside of the NYS Police Academy. It was May 6, 2014, and they were adding Dave's name to a memorial in Albany, recognizing all law enforcement officers from a NY agency who died in the line duty. Poor Caleb was pretty sick and could not attend, and Zach was upset because he had to go! Once he saw The Gray Rider he enjoyed performing for Mommy. I got some great shots of him, and the oversize Stetson is just too cute!

Handmade Embellishments
I went all out on this layout and even did some hand stitching to mimic the look of the pattern paper. The navy blue color scheme worked with the colors in the photos and fit the somber occasion. 

When Zach saw the statue and went into the Academy and saw Daddy's picture on the wall he told me he wanted to be a trooper. Granted he was only five, and he can change his mind many times over, but the thought doesn't scare me. Somehow I think that Dave would want me to encourage him in this. Dave LOVED being a trooper, and the State Police certainly have been good to me and the boys. I would be very proud to have Zach be a trooper and I know Dave would be too.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

A Bouquet for Mommy

This layout just makes me smile! My little Zach Attack picked some yellow weeds and was so proud to bring me this bouquet. I had to take his picture and I love this cheesy smile. It's so sweet and I made a whole layout around this one photo.

Title Treatment
I like mixing and matching different different sizes and sticker fonts. It adds some interest to the title, emphasizes important words, and it stretches my "stash". Another way I try to stretch my stash is to use shapes to replace letters, such as the heart for the "o" in Mommy. I've also been known to cut stickers apart and piece them together to create letters I may have already used. For example, I will cut a "d" down to be an "a", or cut apart a "x" to make apostrophes.

Photo Close Up
I love layering stickers. In this layout I created a border of daisy stickers to mimic Zach's bouquet. To make it "flow" with the layout I glued the photo down on one daisy and then adhered some of the flowers on top of the photo. The more I scrapbook, the more I realize that attention to little details really make a difference in the overall page design.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

My Mommy's Heart

I think every layout I do is special, but some are just a little bit more special than others. This is one of those layouts.

When we were in Washington DC for Police Week, I was very insistent that we go to the FDR Memorial. Dave and I had gone there in 1997, the first year the exhibit was open. They later added the statute of Franklin Roosevelt in a wheelchair. Dave and I wanted to take Caleb there. 

Caleb was diagnosed with SMA when he was two years old. Once he was old enough I started reading him biographies of people with disabilities who went on to do great things - Louis Braille (who was blind), Beethoven (who was deaf), Helen Keller (who was deaf and blind), and Franklin Roosevelt (who couldn't walk because of polio) - just to name a few. Dave and I knew that Caleb would have physical limitations, but we wanted to consistently expose him to those who overcame their physical disabilities. I know he doesn't understand right now, but I'm hoping one day his story will be inspiring. I know he can do great things!

Something really awesome happened when we visited. This statute, which is the only one of its kind depicting FDR in a wheelchair, was right at the entrance to the memorial and a tour guide was actually speaking to a group when Caleb and Zach first saw it. Caleb and Zach went racing to the statute, not caring at all about the audience, with excited shouts of, "Look, Mommy! He's in a wheelchair."I hung back trying to get their attention when I noticed that several people in the group started taking pictures of the boys looking at the statute. I actually teared up a little. I was so proud of my boys, and I have a feeling Caleb might have inspired a few people . . . . I wish Dave could have shared this moment and overwhelming emotion with me.

Journaling Close Up

I scrapbook to capture memories of my boys - I don't want to forget the important moments. A lot of times in my journaling, I write to the boys. I like to tell them what I was thinking, or why Dave and I did the things we did. Maybe one day they will read all my "love notes" to them. I'm so far from a perfect mother or even the mother I want to be. Being thrown into single parenting has created so much stress and I can't do everything Dave and I had planned. I hope, despite the tragedy the three of us have suffered when we lost Daddy, the boys will know how much their parents adored them - that's why I write to them, and a big reason why I scrapbook.

Embellishment Close Up

Hearts made the perfect embellishments for this layout. But I wanted them to stand out. So I took pattern paper scraps and embossed them using The Stamps of Life swirl embossing folder then inked the edges. I adhered them using foam adhesive to add dimension.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Together We Will Find a CURE

This is a layout near and dear to my heart. One thing our family is passionate about is funding medical research for a treatment and cure for Spinal Muscular Atrophy. Dave and I became chapter leaders for CURE SMA (formally Families of SMA) and host a annual 5K / Walk-n-Roll. We promised Caleb that we would not stop until there was a cure for him, and we agreed as a family that we wanted to raise (at least) $1 Million for CURE SMA. No parent should have to sit and hear what we were told, "No treatment. No cure."

Because the day of the event is so crazy, I asked one of my students, Hannah Balta, to come and photograph the event. She donated her time and took some awesome pictures that are definitely scrapbook worthy!

Not only did I have awesome photos to scrap, but I used a lot of fun techniques and am very pleased with the results.

Balloon Bouquets
I used a die from The Stamps of Life to cut balloons out of CURE SMA's colors - orange and purple. I love how they mimic the balloons attached to Caleb's chair. I played around to get a good "grouping". I adhered some directly to the page and then used foam squares on a few balloons to give some dimension to the bouquet. I hand drew the strings then stitched them in black floss.

Title Treatment
I typically use letter stickers from my (plentiful and ever growing) stash, but I shopped for special stickers to match my "vision" for this layout. To make the word CURE stand out, I actually took this photo of my t-shirt to Michael's and found the closest font and color match. I then used simple black stickers for the rest of the title. I placed CURE on the page first to give it prominence and then fit the other letter stickers around it.

Overlapping Photos
I love fitting multiple photos on my page, and the best way to do that is find pictures I can crop down and overlap. I used to think making a photo smaller somehow made it "less important", but I have found that just the opposite happens. It can actually draw more attention to the little details that might get overlooked otherwise. Here the cropped photos highlight a sign my cousin made, Caleb racing his friend, Joe, and a contemplative Caleb.

As long as there is SMA, the Cunniff family will not stop working towards a treatment and cure! That was something Dave was passionate about, and we will carry on not only for Caleb and those battling SMA, but to honor Dave's memory.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Kisses for Mommy

 I love this scrapbook layout!! I don't get to "do" pink and frilly with two boys and an abundance of nephews, but when I saw these photos my Mom took, I knew this was going to be a girly looking page.

We were in Washington DC for Police Week and while waiting for our lunch to come, Zach decided he had to give me some kisses. It was so impromptu and so sweet!

I used a a sketch from Scrapbook Generation - my go to source for inspiration. Then I used papers, stickers and embellishments from all the same paper collection - Simple Stories' Vintage Bliss.

Scrapbooking Tips:
This is one of my go-to techniques - layering stickers. I placed the heart and small flower stickers where I wanted them. Then I placed an adhesive foam square on the back of the larger sticker. I then dusted the back of the sticker with baby powder to keep it from sticking. By only adhering it with a foam square I added some dimension. 

I mimicked the layered circle and sticker embellishments for my journaling spot. This time I adhered a flower sticker directly to the heart sticker, then "popped" it up. In keeping with the totally girly vibe, I used little hearts in place of the o's in the word "love".

Photo Close Up:

Zach told me he wanted to, "Kiss me like Daddy did." It warmed my heart that he remembers Dave being affectionate with me. Dave was such an amazing role model. I'm so sad that the boys won't be able to watch him as they grow.