Saturday, August 30, 2008

Man in the House

Jason is home on a short leave. Such a grown up, in shape man. We did push ups together. I lost. Right away!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


A friend at started a discussion on hoarding and it really struck a cord.

Although there is no evidence in my home that I am a hoarder, and I don't really think it is an issue for me, I do relate to some of the issues as I have OCD tendencies. I think I have a family member who also struggled with it for a time, but has found help and overcome it, and I'm so proud of them.

My eight year old shows pretty serious signs of the tendency, and it weighs on my mind. I try to set a good example, talking him through how I evaluate the value of the things I already have and how I weigh the decision to bring in more things.

I googled and found this info on the subject that I thought was quite helpful:

Here is some valuable info from the Mayo Clinic research on the subject of hoarding:

People who hoard feel compelled to acquire or save items that others may consider worthless. They may stock up on items at garage sales or rummage through other people's trash. They often spend lots of time moving items in their home from one pile to another, without actually discarding anything. They may be so preoccupied by all their clutter and belongings that they don't socialize with family or friends.

Hoarding affects emotions, thoughts and behavior. Signs and symptoms of hoarding may include:

Inability to discard items
Acquiring unneeded or seemingly useless items
Keeping stacks of newspapers, magazines or junk mail
Saving trash or used food containers
Cluttered living spaces
Impairment of daily activities
Trouble making decisions
Difficulty organizing items
Forming attachments to possessions rather than people
Restricting others from touching or borrowing possessions
The homes of people who engage in compulsive hoarding usually offer telltale clues that something's wrong. Countertops, sinks, stoves, desks, stairways and virtually all other surfaces are stacked with stuff. And when there's no more room inside, the clutter may spread to the garage, vehicles and yard.

People who engage in hoarding typically collect items because they believe these items will be needed or have value in the future. They worry about not having these items on hand. They also don't want to feel as if they're wasting anything, so they save everything. For some, the piles of belongings are a source of comfort.

It's not clear what causes hoarding. Some researchers believe that hoarding occurs on a continuum — some people may simply be considered harmless pack rats, while others have a much more severe form of collecting that endangers their life. Hoarding is currently considered a subtype of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and it's sometimes called OCD hoarding. It may one day be classified as a separate disorder, though. Exactly what triggers hoarding compulsions and desires is still under investigation. Like OCD, it may be related, at least in part, to genetics and upbringing.

Lifestyle and home remedies:

Hoarding can lead to isolation and loneliness, which in turn can lead to more hoarding. If you don't want visitors to your house, try to get out to visit with others.
Remind yourself that you don't have to live in squalor and chaos — that you deserve better and that you can enjoy life more.
If you feel overwhelmed by the volume of your possessions and the decluttering task that lies ahead, remember that you can take small steps. With a professional's help, you can tackle one area at a time. Small wins like this can lead to big wins.
To keep motivated to declutter, focus on your goals — living a healthier and more enjoyable life.

Compulsive hoarding is a complex problem involving problematic patterns of acquisition, organization, and retention of items of questionable value. Compulsive hoarders often acquire excessive quantities of items, live in cluttered and disorganized circumstances, and fail to dispose of items in a reasonable and timely manner. The predominant treatment for compulsive hoarding is cognitive behavior therapy. (CBT) that employs exposure (e.g., practice in discarding hoarded items), response prevention (e.g., forgoing opportunities to add items to the cache of hoarded items), and cognitive restructuring (e.g., correcting distorted beliefs relating to hoarding). Pharmacologic treatment has also been applied to hoarding. While there is little research on treatment outcome, it is believed that hoarding is strongly predictive of a poor treatment outcome. It is widely held that these individuals are often difficult to engage in treatment, lack motivation to change and are resistant to therapeutic interventions. Thus, among the so-called "obsessive-compulsive (OC) spectrum disorders," hoarding is viewed as an OC variant that is particularly hard to treat. "OC Foundation article"

Here is a link to a test you can take to help you scale your propensity toward this issue.

I took the test for myself and for Andrew regarding his portion of the house and the results were even more concerning for him than I had expected.

Average score for the whole test is 24, a high score would be 40. Andrew scored 55.
Of course if I asked him these questions his perception would factor in more heavily and his score would go down a bit, but I tried to factor in what I knew of his perception, not just my outside judgement. My score was 16, so that comforts me to feel that I might be able to help him with this issue.

Very interesting topic!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Art of a Different Ilk

For me, scrapbooking has waned a bit. I know its just a phase, I can feel my love for it bubbling under the surface, but for the last few weeks I've struggled getting pages done. I am taking a class by Ashley Wren to help jump start things and I'm calm, knowing my love for this art will override my recent dry spell.

In the meantime, for no apparent reason, a variety of other crafts have caught my attention. Here are a few samples of other art that I've been toying with:

First off, I made a set of ATC cards that I created digitally, and installed them in a gum container. I made these little 2.5 x 3 pages at saved them to my computer and printed them off.

I backed each page with patterned paper and sent this set of family photos to my friend Christine.

If you haven't played with scrapblog yet I highly recommend it. Its easy to learn and oh so fun when you just aren't in the mood to drag out supplies.

Then there is clay buttons! Using Sculpey III or other Fimo products, I have been playing with buttons and have made 300-400 at this point. I even had to start a swap to help clean out some of my inventory! My favorite thing to do is stamp them after they are flattened and then antique them after they come out. I've also used eyelets on them and pieced them into the shape of flowers. Right now I'm toying with the idea of selling bouquets of them on Etsy...I'm just trying to work out the logistics of mailing them as they are somewhat fragile.

I made a boatload of cards...

its weird how influenced by the seasons I am when it comes to color choices. It was very hard to use these "fall" colors in early August!

Then there is good ole fashioned photography, which had suffered in recent months but is now at the forefront thanks to my brand spanking new 55mm lens, a gift from my dear friend Lisa. I can't stop taking photos with it!

Next up are inchies, which I did mention earlier in July on my blog. Hopefully this is a different set than the ones I featured then! I really enjoyed these for a week or two, I liked the less mess and they seem like a great thing to do "on the road" since you only need to bring a punch or two, some scraps, a pen and a sheet of images.

Next up are ATCs. Artist Trading cards are playing card sized works of art that you trade but don't sell. I have made several using musical artists from the past as my primary topic. Gustav Mahler is someone I have been studying lately so he got a whole series. Turns out the man can handle a word as well as a baton!

Then there is A great place to play with words. This is a card I made using the site for my friend Debbie. Debbie, the card is in the mail (with inchies enclosed!)

You can type in a quote or a series of words and it will format them for you, with alot of creative control at your fingertips, or you can type in a blog address and it will create word art from the info it finds on the blog.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Baby havin' class

...cause lawsy I don't want to take any baby makin' class!

This past weekend was spent in the company of my friend Lisa, gettin' ready to birth us a baby. I really enjoyed being "the other half" this time out. I only took a childbirth class with Jason, being too young, scared and stupid with Erin's pregnancy and feeling confident enough to skip it with Andrew.

The program was very informative and Lisa and I got to go over a few issues we haven't talked about yet and practice some labor coping techniques. We were there all day Saturday, so I just spent the night at her place and we had such a pleasant evening. We talked and made polymer clay buttons and had a fabulous dinner out. Sunday we had a relaxing morning at home and then headed back to class. It was really hard to see everyone from the class leaving Sunday afternoon and realizing we'd probably never see these folks again, a really sweet group of future parents!

The lifecycle of a monarch

On July 8, in the late morning, we spent an hour searching the undersides of milkweed leaves to find a little pinhead sized dot which would indicate a monarch egg. We thought we had found five, but only two ended up hatching, about five days later. The two were raised by our friends for a couple of days and then we took over on July 15. At first they were about half an inch long and about three quarters of an inch long. Within a week we were feeding two 3 inch long caterpillars, who had grown so large I was even a little alarmed by them. We moved them in to two separate jars, as they were eating several leaves a day each and July 24 and July 25 they each secured themselves to the tops of their jars and popped into their green, gold dotted cocoons. We handed off one of the cocoons to our friend Ronan, and watched ours carefully for signs of change. On August 1 in the evening, the light, bright green cocoon started to turn a darker forest green and by bedtime it was nearly black. I had to get up bright and early the next morning to get ready for Childbirth Classes and at 6am there was some transparency to the cocoon's outer layer. By the time Lisa picked me up at 8am I could tell things were going to happen very soon. I talked to the cocoon all the way to Burnsville, informing it that what it really wanted to do was come out of the cocoon precisely at 8:45, which would give me time to photograph it without being late for class. As you can see, it was a little later than that!

15 minutes after its emerging, I wanted to set it outside, so it wouldn't damage it's wings in the jar once it was fully extended. As you can see, it wasn't yet fully "pumped up" and its wings were still very floppy. I did successfully transfer it to a lovely flowering plant near the door, and on our next break I came out to find it had flown away.

Both Andrew and I would LOVE to do this again next season, to see if we will see different parts of the process. Very cool experience!


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