Tag: memories

A Cherished Journal

Life is never appreciated quite so much as when Death comes calling. The same is true of this journal chosen for the 2016 Cherished Blogfest.

As a writer, I have stacks of journals. Finely bound books with gorgeous illustrations…


Spiral notebooks covered in scrawling ink and lead…

Spiral Notebooks

And then there’s the Cherished Journal.

Cherished Journal

After I wrote in in the other night, I realized there were only five empty pages waiting to be filled.

Tears puddled. I flipped to the first page, lovingly inscribed by my mother. She purchased it during a ladies’ retreat with a group of women from church.


Years from now, when I’ve forgotten what the lessons were about that October in Seaside, Oregon, this note from my mom will crackle like a fire in my heart.

Because three short months after she wrote those words, my mom graduated from this earthly plain. Now she waits in Heaven to impart more encouraging words – someday – when I have moved past this life.

This made me think, not for the first time, how neglectful we are of the people in our lives. People we love tend to see the worst from us. We pick up the phone and vent at them when a day turns mean.

How many times have I snapped at my husband because something or someone else hurt or irritated me? Too many to recount. And the thought shames me.

On the other hand, how often have I hugged him and told him what he means to me? Since the day my mother broke the earthly chains, this has happened more frequently.

But less so the further from that painful goodbye I travel.

Do I really need someone dear to me to depart in order to cherish those who remain?

It chills me to think this has become the way of things in my world. Casual words and flippant teasing dominates the conversation. What about meaningful remarks of sincere appreciation?

I hold the cherished journal in my trembling hands. It blurs. The dry ink can’t be touched by my teardrops.

Open Journal

But can my heart? Will I finally learn the lesson this simple gift – now filled with my own thoughts and plans – tries to teach me?

Don’t wait for Death to show you what is truly cherished.

Live today with words and deeds that cherish all those whose presence in your world is a greater gift than any book or heirloom or brightly wrapped parcel.

Who will you cherish today?


This Wedding is Scrap(book)ed!

That’s a wrap folks! I finished the wedding scrapbook.

The most amazing part to me is that it happened within three months of the big day. Others have waited a year after an event before seeing the photographic memorabilia I scrapped together.

Even more amazing, I set my mind to it and finished it off within a week.

What was left to do? Plenty.


The last bridal shower occurred the Sunday before Thanksgiving. We stopped in to enjoy the festivities on our way to the beach to spend the holiday with my sister.

The pictures my husband took were saved with those pictures. But none of them were on our shared drive when I went looking for them.

Thankfully, the bride’s mother helped me out and sent a few photos my way. I happily used all those and nagged my husband to give me access to the ones he took.

The only shower game involved guessing facts about the wedding dress. Harder than it sounds.
The only shower game involved guessing facts about the wedding dress. Harder than it sounds.

Showers – done.

Why no rehearsal?

Our wedding photographer took several hundred pictures of the decorating and wedding rehearsal. None of those made it into the scrapbook.

Why not? Isn’t the rehearsal important?

Yes, it was a long and important day.

Thad & Kacy Wedding 2016 - 0129

But I was tired. And the BIGGEST day was the wedding itself.

Why spend energy on the rehearsal when I could apply it to the main event?

At least, this is the excuse I’m using. Hopefully, my son and daughter won’t be too unhappy about the exclusion of that busy day of preparation.

Wedding Day

Thousands of photos exist of every aspect of the big day.

A great shot of the entire wedding party
A great shot of the entire wedding party

I’m not exaggerating.

It took me several hours to view them all and pick out the ones I want to use. As I type this, I’m reminded I still haven’t sent the photographer the list of photos I want tweaked and doctored.

*Stops typing on this and opens a Facebook private message window*

I’m back.

It was a beautiful wedding. I’m posting a few photos with this post, but they are weak representations of a wonderful day. (And these are excellent photos, so I guess that tells you something about the wedding.)

The lovely couple getting ready to start the ceremony
The lovely couple getting ready to start the ceremony

How was I supposed to condense the awe and incredulity into a finite number of twelve-by-twelve scrapbook pages?

It took almost as long to select the photos as it did to lay out the pages.

In the end, the actual wedding took up as much space as all the events leading up to it. Which is exactly as it should be.

I’ve got a page for the girls and one for the guys. Some shots of the important implements, like the rings and bouquet. The ceremony has three pages.

The happy couple
The happy couple

How do I decide what portions of the reception to include?

More hours selecting and printing pictures nets four lovely pages for the hours-long reception.

The biggest conundrum was how to finish off the last page since I don’t have any photos of their honeymoon (which would be the natural way to end it).

I settled on an awesome shot of the happy couple being flagellated with the streamer-thingies used in place of rice or birdseed or bubbles. Add some sparkle and encouraging sayings and that’s a wrap.

As always, there’s just enough in the book to incite a full-fledged jaunt down memory lane. Isn’t that the point of a scrapbook anyway?

Forget Scrapbooking the Wedding- It’s Here!

Scrapbook your family’s memories. It’s a perfect way to re-live those moments while preparing a product you can share with others.

And I’ve been scrapbooking my youngest son’s wedding. For most of 2015 (although, I have to be honest, I really slacked off early in the year).

Now, it’s time to put the colored paper and thematic stickers away.

It’s time to live the day.

Yes, the wedding is nearly here. I will officially gain my second daughter.

And the amount of photographs that need to be cropped and glued will increase exponentially. (They’re not expecting this thing to be complete in 2016, are they?)

All the secrecy about what the dress looks like will finally end. And the joy of married life is about to begin.

The Schedule of Events

December 31st

Mother of the Groom gets her hair cut and colored (It’s about time!)

All ducks are in a row for the rehearsal, photographer and honeymoon

January 1st

  • 11AM – Rehearsal lunch at the Cultural Center (location of the reception)
  • Followed by: decorating for the reception
  • Followed by: the actual Wedding Rehearsal at the church
  • Driving over an hour home in hopes of getting restful sleep in my own bed

January 2nd

  • Early- Get up and don the lovely Mother of the Groom dress that’s been waiting in my closet for nearly a year
  • 8AM – leave for Newberg
  • 9AM – Arrive at church
  • 10AM – Pictures begin
  • 1PM – Wedding ceremony (time to smear my mascara with tears)
  • Followed by the reception at the Cultural Center
  • All afternoon – sharing laughter with well-wishers
  • 5PM – Clean up the reception hall
  • Followed by: Who’s taking care of all these gifts?
  • Followed by: Hugs and goodbyes
  • Later – arrive home and collapse into bed

Did I mention that I’m going on vacation in a week?

It’s a new tradition. The post-wedding honeymoon for parents of the bride or groom.

Scrapbooking a Wedding – Part 2 – The Engagement

In the wake of one whirlwind wedding, the memorabilia for another waxed and waned. Without an engagement, there would be no wedding. Right?

Engagements are epic. Entire movies have been plotted around popping the question.

Why was it so difficult to put this spread of pages together?

Call me creatively stifled. Or dumbfounded by the over-abundance of information.

The Plan

Never let it be said that my youngest son doesn’t have a plan.

It may look like haphazard meandering. Especially if you’ve seen how he keeps his clean clothes *frowns*

He had everything set up. Reservations at the restaurant he wanted, buddies lined up to set the proposal site in order.

Even video and photo equipment.

So – he was early for the reservations. Better than late though.

The dinner was excellent. The dessert a delicious “enjoy me later” delicacy from The Cheesecake Factory.

Flower petals were strewn with obvious care in the private glen on campus.


The Photos

Darkness curtained this romantic setting. And someone didn’t have a flash. Or something to add light for the video.

Pictures were taken. Filming progressed.

In the end, the Dark Side prevailed.

The only remaining proof lay in the minds of those in attendance.

It’s pretty hard to use that for scrapbook images.

And then there were two

The all-important question was posed. The lovely girl said, “Yes.”

So they are engaged.

Both of them blogged their side of the story. And posted pictures taken with their camera phones at the restaurant. (One of those moments when a phone that is also a camera is a wonderful thing.)

Those images and recollections are all the fodder I had to make a memorable page layout in their keepsake book.

Thankfully, the weather turned wet. The man worked late.

Messing up the table with all my paper paraphernalia seemed like a profitable use of time.

And the project continues. Now, my creative future daughter is planning on making 200 wedding invitations.

Talk about some scraps for the book…

Scrapbooking a Wedding – Part 1 – The Dress

Things are changing in my world. One of the biggest changes that I’m relishing is being the mother of the groom. Of course, this calls for a scrapbook.

As mother of the groom, I don’t play an integral role in most of the planning. I’m okay with that. I want to be kept in the loop, though. Offering to record the event in a scrapbook gave me a perfect reason.

Life events should be enjoyed while they’re lived. But they should also be documented. This way the joy can be revisited through the years.

When we had our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary, I enjoyed flipping through the wedding albums I made. The memories rushed back in vivid detail once more.

Time fades our recollections in the same way sun leeches color from our curtains.

We can’t bring our curtains back to full-color. Our recollection of events? It can be revived through visual stimulation.

As for the upcoming wedding, only a few plans have been set solidly in place. One of those – the dress – has been written about before.

Fading quote


Anyone who puts together a scrapbook, realized the paper makes the book. Seriously.

This is why any craft store will have an entire aisle of single-sheet specialty paper. And another aisle loaded with books of assorted papers.

It should have been easy to find a wedding-themed book of paper I loved, right?

Someone isn’t crazy about lace. Since this book is for her, I tried to avoid the books with mostly lacy-looking backgrounds.

Apparently, most brides ADORE lace.

Once I found a book with enough pages, I had to decide which backgrounds fit with which events I’d be documenting. Good thing I can always pick up more papers. After all, a scrapbook is designed two pages at a time.

The shopping excursions and final dress selection is the content shown on the four pages which record the hours days-long search for the perfect dress.


During those escapades, the bride and her mother snapped photos with their phones. (What did we do before our phone could take snapshots?)

After the shopping trips, they forwarded the pictures to me. It was my job to sort through them, deciding which ones represented the overall experience of the day.

Since only one trip involved most of the bridal party, I chose many pictures from that day. After all, bridesmaids are an important piece of the successful wedding pie. (Or would that be cake?)

This bride went through the process of selecting a dress in a methodical manner. I must say, I was truly impressed. What happened to trying on every single dress until you fell in love with one?

If you know what you want, why waste the time and effort?

An assortment of pictures comes from the rejected dresses. Generally, there were parts of the dress that met the criteria. The pictorial rendering points out those sections, in hopes of reminding the bride of her genius.

For the bride, the dress is a HUGE portion of her wedding day. That’s one of the reasons it’s one of the first things my lovely future-daughter and son will see when they open their wedding scrapbook.

Next year when it’s finished – or ten years from now when they want to stroll down memory lane.

Next in this series is The Engagement. Guess I should actually put those pages together before I write about it.

All I Want for Christmas

All I want for Christmas is to skip the whole thing.

I’m not looking forward to it. At all. I have reasons. Darn good ones too. So why don’t you hear me out before you label me “Scrooge” and move on?

Reason #1

Last year my mother was in the hospital at Christmas. This year – she’s in Heaven.

While that’s great for her, it leaves a pretty large hole in our family. If you knew my mother, you would understand that her shoes might have appeared small, but they are impossibly unfillable.

Just like I cried through Mother’s Day, I have to face my first Christmas without my mom. It’s not easy. They say people are more depressed at Christmas than any other time of the year. And I can see it.

It’s a time built around memories. Sometimes memories hurt. Grief cuts like a knife.

This is the biggest reason I vote for skipping directly from December 23rd to December 26th this year. I have others…

Reason #2

Things are changing in the old Hughson household.

This year, Christmas morning will be different. Next year, it will be different again. I’m the one who instituted a host of Christmas morning traditions. Same breakfast. Same cocoa. Same reading of Luke 2.

Change is great. It is inevitable. It is not for Christmas.

Reason #3

I am going to Mexico for a week and return home on December 20th.

This is great news for my sun-loving psyche.

This is horrible news for the traditional holiday baking plans. I am not planning to decorate my house – must keep it staged for prospective buyers for one thing. Who will water the tree while we’re gone? Why do I want to expend energy decorating when I’ll be gone for a week?

Reason #4

I get sick of all the hype and materialism. I’ve posted about that subject in the past.

Christmas is about two things in my world: Jesus and family. None of that needs a Black Friday for shopping explosions and excellent deals. I’m happy to sit around singing carols and playing games while with my family. Who wants to fight the crowds to find the perfect gift only to realize – there is no such thing?

Reason #5

Everything gets topsy-turvy in my daily schedule once December arrives.

I just want to lock myself away with my computer and finish writing something. I want to check off my writing goals and reach that pedestal of published bliss.

Yes, I’m out of touch with reality. This could be why I write fantasy novels.

No one is going to fast forward past the next few weeks. I don’t want to miss a moment of the family vacation in Mexico.

I might want to skip Christmas, but it won’t happen. As the Grinch found out,

“He HADN’T stopped Christmas from coming!
Somehow or other, it came just the same!”

I guess there’s no chance for me to actually skip Christmas, is there? In that case, all I want for Christmas is … a happy day with my family.

In Search of Home


This place isn’t just a house. Memorable moments of laughter and sorrow meld together to make it special. My boys grew up here – in our home.

Home is not just where the heart is or where a man hangs his hat. It is a haven of peace, safety, rest and love. Get bullied on the school bus? Come inside, shut the door, cry out the tale, have a cheese stick and move upstairs to play some World of Warcraft.

Your girlfriend broke up with you? It’s okay to cry on Mom’s shoulder, stare at your ceiling and push your food around on your plate.

Home is more secure than the Tower of London. The key on this door keeps troublemakers and judgment locked out and love and acceptance locked in.

It’s the very essence of home that makes many aspects of selling this property difficult. I’ve mentioned the price issue before.

There’s more.

Welcome to one really bad weekend

It was probably easier for hubby and I to agree on names for our children than it was to settle on a single house plan. We had to, though, in order to get a builder to give us a bid.

I already mentioned the worthlessness of open houses in my neighborhood. Our realtor advertised a drawing for a $100 Visa gift card for everyone who viewed our property that Sunday. It was sure to draw the crowds.

First call:

The bid from the builder is a certain amount. Said certain amount puts the combined lot and house to $400,000. That is $50,000 or more out of our budget. Even if we sell our house at full list price, we aren’t in the market for something that expensive.

Second call:

No one showed up for the open house. People aren’t coming to look at other times either. What this tells us is that the property isn’t priced right. Can you consider dropping the list price another $15,000 to get it in the next price bracket?

Hubby feels stressed that we have no place to move when our house sells. He feels cheated because all of our labor and improvements to the house mean nothing in the current market (or maybe it’s the neighborhood).

Now, he needs to come up with $50,000 more for the new house while getting $15,000 less for the old one.

This whole “it’s time to scale down to a one-level home” isn’t working out so well for us.

It’s bad enough to leave seventeen years of memories behind. But do we have to give the place away? It there any way we will be able to purchase the home we wish to inhabit until we die?

Maybe I don’t want to sell my home after all. I certainly don’t want to be homeless.

Can you put a numeric value on home?

My Vicarious Vacation: Gone Scrapbooking

Remember those old photo albums with some sort of strange clear glue and the plastic pages that screamed when you placed a photo behind them? You know, the ones from which all the pictures fell after a few months. So much for that awesome glue.

Now, there are photo boxes and photo sleeves to help you organize your photographs. Who wants them organized? Not me. I want them somewhere accessible so I can pull them out and stroll down memory lane.

Enter scrapbooking. Don’t ask my sister about this. She will spill some story about how I grumbled and complained when she first asked me to scrapbook pages for an album she was making for our mom.

Scrapbooking makes my back ache. I need more tools to make cooler pages. It would be cheaper and less painful to throw all the photos in a cute box somewhere.

Yep, but I love to put those pages together. It gives me a chance to relive those moments vicariously. As a fiction writer, living vicariously is something I adore. This is why I highly recommend reading.

Lest I ramble on about two of my favorite subjects, let me get to the point. Behold: my process for  preserving memories and my ponderings while scrapping two different family vacations.

Pick out pictures

A tedious aspect for me is selecting pictures. Not because I don’t like shuffling through the photos on my computer. I adore making the fingernails size extra-large and scrolling through to find the best ones.

I despise clicking on the plethora of numbered folders on our hard drive. This is how my photographer husband set them up when he downloaded them from his camera.

What do you think? Does folder 584 sound like it might be the trip to Washington D.C.? Oh, you mean you can’t tell by a number! Hmmm.

Just look at the date, you say? What an excellent idea! Except most of the file dates are meaningless and less than helpful.  Why? Anything taken before 2008 has the same date. That would be the date he created this directory on the external server.

Very helpful. I know.

Decide on paper and accessories

Once I have finally printed the 8 – 12 photos out, the real fun begins.

No, I wasn’t being sarcastic. Sometimes I even start with this step.

I mean, what girl doesn’t love to accessorize? There are stickers, borders, letters, words and all manner of shapes that could make a ho-hum layout into WOWZA.

Those big books of 12×12 sheets that have 50 or more different types of paper are incredible. When they’re on sale, I literally want to purchase one of each. You’ll be proud to hear I avoided buying any the last time I was at the craft store. They were even half price.

It’s best to make a list of what you want to scrapbook before you decide on purchasing stickers. I will use the entire sheet of Disney Orlando stickers when I make those pages. In fact, I used a couple when I scrapped our Disney 2000 vacation.

The boys were so little: 9 and 6. Tanner’s “muscle” shirt showed off half his chest. The scar on Thaddeus’ cheek, still pretty new, crinkled like a dimple in nearly every picture. *sigh*

Time flies when you’re roaming through memories this way.

Place the photos in a dozen different locations

The most tedious and time consuming step is planning the exact layouts. I use the two-page spread, lying the blank sheets next to each other as they’ll appear in the album, and try to make the pages balance each other out. Or not. Sometimes imbalance suits me the project better.

This is the step I generally enjoy taking at a friend’s house. It can be a hassle to transport everything. I recommend a large plastic tub or a totally cute bag from Thirty-one.

Once the date is set and the menu planned, we bring our projects and tools and spread out on the huge dining room table (a major requirement for scrapbooking of any sort). This way,  I lay out my plans and my crafty friends tweak them so they look a hundred times better. Side benny: they have great tools and paper they’re happy to share with me.

Cut, glue and admire

Once I’ve nailed down the layout (figuratively speaking, of course), I start cutting all the pictures, background paper, borders and frames I’ll need for the pages. Right now, I think my cutter might need a new blade. The edges are looking a little raggedy and the cuts don’t always go through.

Once everything is the perfect size, I use glue strips to affix photos. A couple of these tiny tabs in each corner of the picture does the trick. Much less messy than glue, too.

Of course, for the heavy cardstock frames, borders and background accents, only glue will do. I use a fat glue stick made especially for paper to paper bonding. Speaking of bonding, isn’t that what family vacations are all about? Oh, and hanging with friends to scrapbook is another way to promote bonding.

What was I talking about? Oh, yes. Accessorizing my pages until they take on the personality of the trip they depict. That means it’s time to place the stickers, accents and photo tags. Presto! Your glamour girl is ready to go.

Stand back and admire your handiwork. My hands massage my lower back during this step and I try to stretch my shoulders without groaning. Usually, I need to down a glass of water. Who knew this was such a thirsty and back-wrenching hobby?


Whoever said scrapbooking was easy must use a different method. Claims of fun and the offer of something rewarding in the end? Those are spot on.


What is your preferred method of preserving photographic memories?


A Mother’s Life

When you’re writing your mother’s obituary, it occurs to you that sometimes words fail. A life is more than education, residence, employment, awards and surviving family. All the column inches in the newspaper can never hope to capture the full story.

My mother’s life conceived mine. If she had listened to the obstetrician who told her pregnancy and her body didn’t mesh, I would not be here to write these words.

My mother worked hard to make sure I had what I needed. She taught me the value of hard work as a means of reaching beyond the necessities of life into the pleasures. Did I appreciate having to scrub the toilet twice a week? (Make that six times if the first attempt didn’t meet her specification for cleanliness.)

Episodes of raw fried chicken and undercooked potatoes aside, I can prepare tasty and healthy meals because my mother taught me how to use a stove. I started drying the dishes at the age of five (lucky older sister got to wash). I recall stirring jam until I thought my arm would fall off, being hypnotized by the valve on the top of the pressure cooker and sending raw venison through the meat grinder.

My mother taught by example as much as by direct instruction. She loved to read. She sat in the chair with my sister on one side and me on the other, reading aloud to us. When we were old enough, we took turns reading the stories to her. She sang along with The Carpenters as their 8-track played on the stereo. She took us to church on Sunday and helped us learn to recite the books of the Bible.

As much as I grumbled about keeping my room clean, I knew what a clean room should look like. Our house was spotless. No need for a “five second rule” in our kitchen. Go ahead and eat directly off the floor; it’s as clean and sanitary as the counters. No joke.

My mother worked at the bank when we were younger. When we were in high school, she returned to college to pursue a nursing degree. She taught me that a person is never too old to pursue a dream.

I resented her determination to get high marks in college. She spent too much time studying, I thought. Of course, when I returned to college as a 40-year-old, I couldn’t settle for less than an “A” either. She had passed her perfectionism on to me – by example as much as admonition.

I wanted to make my own choices. I deliberately chose things she disapproved for my life, claiming it demonstrated my independence from her. Most of my regrets were decisions I made simply because I knew Mom wouldn’t want me to do it. Can anyone say “stupid”?

I didn’t appreciate her advice until I had children of my own. I didn’t understand her grief at my rebellion until my own children stood toe-to-toe with me debating the rules I set for them. The magnitude of her love in the face of my idiocy boomed like a megaphone when I cried over my own children.

How can these sentiments be expressed in journalistic style for the obituary page? In truth, I’ve barely scratched the surface of describing my mother’s life. More experiences lie ahead when the epic boundlessness of her love and sacrifice will be revealed again and again.

A mother’s life is about securing the best for her children and grandchildren. In the absence of financial wealth to purchase this, my mother spent her own blood, sweat, tears, love, wisdom and time to procure success by outfitting us to strive for it.

What words describe your mother’s life or your life as a mother?