Friday, May 29, 2009

Bree is in REMISSION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hello all my wonderful readers! I am writing some VERY happy and VERY wonderful news that Baby Bree is in remission!!!! This has been very surprising and unexpected news. I found out two days ago and have been waiting anxiously for my friend Kari to blog about it before I spread the news as well. She just posted today and if any of you would like to read about it, then you can click here:

http://www.famofcookies.blogspot.com

Thank you to all those who have donated, who have prayed, who have given words of support. You have all been wonderful, and I think Kari and Justin will appreciate every last drop of your love! For those who want, I am still accepting donations until next Saturday (June 6th), and I think whatever we are able to give to them will be that much more meaningful, and they will REALLY be able to enjoy it now.

Oh I am just so happy!!! Please feel free to post a comment on Kari's blog if you want. I know she would love it!

Summer

Friday, May 22, 2009

Easy Breezy kit

Hello dear friends. I have felt helpless the past few days. Many of you remember Baby Bree. (You can click here to read about her story). She is just a few days younger than my sweet Claire.

Baby Bree has been fighting neuroblastoma cancer for over 6 months now.
Her mother, Kari (who is one of my best friends), and her father Justin (who is one of my husband's best friends) have been in and out of the hospital so many times. At the same time they are raising a 6 year old Down Syndrome boy as well as a 4 year old little boy.


Caleb & Gunner wearing the shirts/vests that were purchased using some of your donations:
For the past 6 months Bree has been going through chemotherapy, blood transfusions, plenty of IV pokes, feeding tubes, MRI tests, fevers gallore, bacterial infections, biopsies, sleepless nights at hospitals (YUCK!) and the list goes on. I cannot imagine what my friend Kari must be feeling. The couple of weeks that I was at the hospital with Claire were some of my most trying times.

Well, this past week they were going to find out if her cancer is in remission. But they found out that after this long struggle that there is still cancer in her bone marrow. Kari said that the doctors are puzzled and were confident that the cancer would be gone.

Bree goes in for surgery today to remove the tumor (which is in a dangerous spot; it is located in her abdomen next to her aorta and inferior vena cava [major arteries]). They are hoping to get it all out. They will then do a biopsy on the tumor to see if it has any active neuroblast cells. If it comes back "non-active" then they still won't know if the cancer is "non-active" as well in her bone marrow. They would have to do more scans and a bone marrow biopsy in another 3 months. What a long time to be carrying such a load!

Kari wrote:
"Tonight as I sat rocking Bree to sleep, I finally let the tears come. I have felt all day like I need to be strong. I need to have faith that Heavenly Father has a plan for Bree. That she is special to Him and that He has great things in store for her. But, as I let my mind wander and worry about what could possibly be in store for her future, my heart began to break. When you have a baby you never think that they will be dealing with cancer or chemo, multiple surgeries, blood transfusions, bone marrow biopsies, etc. She's been battling this cancer half of her life. I feel crushed in a way because when she was diagnosed they gave us this plan...8 rounds of chemo and she should be done with this cancer. Yes, her tumor has shrunk, yes, its out of her bones, but she's not totally clean. We are not talking about remission yet. At this point we are still confused, bewildered by these results. Justin and I are mentally drained. It's been a hard day. We had much different ideas about today. It was supposed to be a day of celebration and excitement. I was supposed to be planning a cancer-free party. Instead, we have to dig in our heels and move forward, walking blindly by faith and continuing to live, being grateful for the miracles we've seen, and truly enjoying more of the little moments."

(Kari and Bree still making the most out of a hospital stay on St. Patrick's Day):

That last sentence that she wrote was so powerful to me. She lists some very important things that we can all learn from and apply to whatever struggles we are going through: 1) Dig in our heels and move forward, 2) Walk blindly by faith, 3) Continue to live, 4) Be grateful for the miracles, and 5) Truly enjoy more of the little moments.

How profound.

Kari and I have been emailing the past couple of weeks. She is so drained. So tired. So ready to be done. Bree is still nursing from her and Kari truly has never had a break from all of this. If I was in this situation I would want to escape (to a beach perhaps). But Kari is the type of person who wouldn't want to escape, but would want to be with her children and husband always. She is such a good mother. However, I feel that she needs a break!

This is when I decided (once again) to do a kit. I realize that so many (SOOOOO MANY) of you had made donations (small and large) back in the fall when I created the "Gratitude kit". For those who are newer to my site, you can click here to read about what was purchased with the donations.

I realize that I cannot be asking for more. You have all been so generous in the past. But, for those of you who would like to make a donation, I would greatly appreciate it. (I even went above and beyond with this kit and made extra papers and elements....it's my biggest kit ever!) I will accept donations for the next couple of weeks (I'll do it until June 6th which is my brother's birthday [easier for me to remember that way]). Just click on the "donation tab" on the righthand side.

If you cannot make a monetary donation, then your prayers and words of encouragement would be wonderful as well. As before, I would love to give her any words and thoughts coming from you. Let me know if you have any ideas on things that could lift their spirits. I'm thinking along the lines of a spa day, movie tickets, restaurant gift cards, etc. But if you have something else in mind, please let me know.

We love you Easy Breezy!!!
Every time I think of Bree, I think of Claire and how grateful I am for her. When I made this kit I knew I needed it to be cheerful and uplifting. As I was with my own sweet Claire one day, I realized how happy she makes me. And as I looked at her I got my inspiration in the beautiful dress she was wearing.

Easy Breezy
kit
Click here to download the free Easy Breezy kit:
Easy Breezy kit: part 1
Easy Breezy kit: part 2
Easy Breezy kit: part 3
Easy Breezy kit: elements 1
Easy Breezy kit: elements 2

To donate, you can click on the "Donate" button at the top of my blog on the righthand side. Thank you so much!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Tutorial: The Selective Color Tool

Have you ever had a scrapbook paper and thought, "Oh, I love everything about this paper, but I just wish there wasn't any pink in it!" Or, "I love this paper, but that one shade of blue doesn't quite match the shade of blue in my picture." This is where one of my favorite tools comes in handy. It is called the Selective Color Tool. Some of you have posted and asked me to change the pinks in some of my kits to blue so you could use them on your boys' layouts. Now you'll know how! (***When changing the colors of papers, always check the designer's Terms of Use to see if they've given permission for you to change their colors. You have my 100% permission on all of my kits).

(Keep in mind that I use Adobe Photoshop CS2, so I don't know how well this tutorial applies to other programs).

1) Open the paper you want to use. For this tutorial I will be using the Blossoms paper from my Happiness kit.
2) Click on Image, then Adjustments, and finally Selective Color.

3) Next you will want to choose which color it is that you are wanting to change. I have decided that for this tutorial I want to change my red color to be yellow. I will make sure the color "red" is highlighted and then I will click "OK".

4) Now you get to play around until you get the desired look you want.

5) Here is the before and after of the two. Notice the greens didn't change because I only selected the reds to change:


The Selective Color Tool works great with pictures as well. I use this tool for a natural way to whiten teeth. In this picture of me and my hubby, my teeth match nicely with my shirt (bad), however, I'd like them to match my hubby's bright white shirt!

There are a couple of things to do first, before we do the steps that I described above.

1) First, we need to let Photoshop know that the ONLY area we are wanting to work with is my teeth. We do this by using what's called the Polygonal Lasso Tool.

2) Next we need to use the Polygonal Lasso Tool to make a shape around my mouth. With the Polygonal Lasso Tool is selected, just click around the mouth. This does not need to be exact. You want to make sure that your final click is in the same place as your first click to form a complete circle. You will know you've done it correctly if the outline becomes the "marching ants" (moving dashed lines).

3) Copy (Ctrl C) and Paste (Ctrl V) the shape you just outlined. (You can also copy by clicking on "Edit" then click on "Copy" and then click on "Edit" then click on "Paste." Now you have a new layer which is the shape of my mouth. Make sure that layer is highlighted.

4) It's finally time to use the Selective Color Tool! Making sure the new mouth layer is highlighted, follow step 3 from the first tutorial (Image, Adjustments, Selective Color), and instead of choosing the "red" color to play with, we are now going to choose "white" because that's the main shade of my teeth. With the white color selected, take the tab above the word "yellow" and drag it all the way to the left. Sometimes I redo this step, only I start with the "yellow" color instead of white, and then take the yellow tab again and drag it to the left.
5) You'll want to flatten the image when you're all done to make it all one layer. (Click "layer" then "flatten image.") And voila! Here are the before and after pictures. Not too drastic, see? Just a nice, subtle change.
***Disclaimer: I am not proud of my skin! Please don't look at these pictures up close and say to me, "Summer, you should have also taught us how to cover up wrinkles and blemishes using your picture!" (We'll save that for another day!)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Angel Mother kit

I remember growing up and Mother's Day was approaching all 5 of us kids would ask our mom what she wanted us to get her or do for her for Mother's Day. Each year it was always the same answer, "I would love it if you would clean your rooms." That never made sense to me...how could clean rooms be considered a Mother's Day gift? Now that I am a mother, I realize the importance of that gift and I'm pretty sure that if my kids ask me, I'll give them the same answer my mom gave to us!

I love my mom. I consider myself so lucky to have had her in my life and to teach me so much. I only felt love from her. Even if I was in trouble, she would always go about things in such a loving way, and I know my siblings felt the same. She had a way about making us each feel so important, and in fact, I know motherhood was one of the most important things to her.

She left behind 9 grandkids (3 more have been born since then and another one is due any day), and we are so glad that our oldest kids remember her. When I spray some of my mom's perfume on, Annika will say, "You smell like Grandy." Or if we walk into a boutique shop where they have their yummy potpourri lingering about, Caitlynn will say, "This smells like Grandy's house." We'll even be at a store, and we might walk by some toys and the girls will say, "Grandy had that doll!" or "Grandy read me that story!" And I am so grateful for that.
(This is my parents with their grandkids 2 months before my mom passed)

This will be my third Mother's Day without her. What a legacy she has left behind. All 5 of us kids are active in our Church and continue to live in a way that our mom would be proud of. We stay close as a family and know how important it is to cling together. We are parents who love our children and consider parenting to be a blessing and one of the most important things we can do. We consider marriage as something worth working hard at. My mom and dad loved each other so much and I loved that they would kiss in front of us. I have learned how to be a good listener and to not judge. I have learned how to pray and to have faith. I have learned how to serve. I am so grateful to have been raised by my mother. I will always remember her example, and will strive to live so good to be with her again one day.

One of my favorite quotations has always been one from Abraham Lincoln. It became even more dear to me after my mom had passed. The quote says, "All that I am or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother."

I love you Mom.

I am so grateful for the opportunity that I have of being a mother. I love my four beautiful children and am so happy to be a stay-at-home Mom! I am so grateful to my husband and the hard worker that he is so that I have the privilege of being home with Brock and Claire during the day, and for being there when Caitlynn and Annika come home from school. I value my time with them and consider being a mom one of the best things that could ever happen to me. I hope you all have a wonderful Mother's Day. Even if you are not a mother, you can be an influence for good to those around you. And for those of you whose mothers are still alive, take the time to be with them or talk with them; you will never know how much time you will have with her. Happy Mother's Day!