Sunday, December 19, 2010

Winter Blues

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Hi Everyone!

Yes, I'm still alive and I have a story to go with it. But first, how is everyone's December going? I hope better than mine. Has everyone been able to finish their Holiday shopping? Or have you left it for last minute, like me?!

Okay, let me start my story by warning you this might be a long and picture-less post. My troubles started shortly after Thanksgiving. On Black Friday, instead of heading out to the mall to find a mob of crazy Holiday Shoppers, I decided to start on my Christmas decorations. It was a nice day since I had my husband and kids help out and we managed to get everything done in one day. I would share pictures, but I have yet to learn how to take a decent picture of those beautiful twinkling Christmas lights. I still had a few days before December began and I decided to take the time to relax, but at the same time jot down few ideas I had for the upcoming month. The ideas started pouring in and I ended up with a list of 15 projects! I loved every single one of them, but my first reaction was - "How was I going to ever finish all of them?" So I decided to start working on them, before Christmas decided to catch up to me.

I created my first project - a Notepad Holder/Sentiments. I've seen many of them over at SplitCoastStampers and wanted to give them a try. I created a .cut file to cut out the holders with a pocket to hold papers - maybe receipts, business cards, bills, etc. Then I set out to create a few Digital Stamps/WordArt sentiments to go along with my Notepad Holders. Designing them was the easy part -I even added a few digital elements from some digital kits I have. The trouble started when I decided to ask for permission from the designers of the digital kits. Turns out I can't share any of the 4 Digital/WordArt I created, except for 1 that contains no digital elements.

With that idea turned down, I started to work on my second project - an A2 Card Holder .cut file - cut it out a few times on scrap paper and made a few tweaks. So far everything is working out smoothly. Confident that my .cut file is cutting properly, I load my sheet of choice and I should tell you that this is where the trouble starts again. I wanted to cut out the A2 Card Holder in a clear acetate sheet, so the cards would be visible from the packaging. I set everything up and press cut. The problem comes when I press unload and lift up my card holder - its cut in half! Somehow I left a scoreline on the box tab and cut it. No problem, I'll just remove it and cut it out again. Thankfully, I had ONE - notice the key word here, ONE - acetate sheet left. Load, Cut, Unload, and that DARN scoreline is still there! Yep, I had ruined my last sheet of acetate. What was I going to do now?! Run to A.C. MOORE of course! I was in there the week before and noticed that Bazzill had come out with clear plastic sheets and they had a whole bunch of them. But of course, they didn't have any when I went back! Why didn't I get them when I saw them first?! No problem, Marlene, just relax and look online. I went to my FAVORITE online store - A CHERRY ON TOP - and found those famous Bazzill Clear Plastic Sheets I had seen at A.C. MOORE. Immediately, ordered some and all I had to do now was wait. Mind you, that it would be December 6th by then, so I still had plenty of time to complete my projects. Right?

In the mean while, I decided to start working on my third project idea - a Skinny Box .cut file. Again designed it, cut it out a few times with scrap paper, made a few tweaks. So far so good. December 6th comes around and I'm *patiently* waiting behind the door, stalking my mail man. Finally, my package waits and I rip into worse than a kid on Christmas Morning. Only to find out that my the Bazzill Clear Plastic sheets are too THICK for the Cricut to cut - even with the deep blade! I tried all setting and blade pressures with no luck. I couldn't get a clean cut from that clear plastic sheet. I got on the phone with Bazzill, who then told me that the plastic sheet comes in TWO weights, a .007 gauge and a .20 gauge. I apparently got the .20 gauge the thickest of them and they had no hopes of the Cricut cutting the plastic. At this point I felt hopeless and had no idea what to do. I got on the phone with ACOT to see what they could do, but my only option was to return the sheets and get 1/2 of what I paid for.

It was now December 7th, and I was starting to feel depressed. It seems as if everytime I want to complete a project something has to happen. Sometimes I feel like throwing in the towel and just getting rid of every scrappy item I own. My supporting husband gave me the encouragement I needed and I went back on the hunt for the clear plastic sheets. But I was unable to find the Bazzill Plastic Sheets in the .007 gauge weight. I wonder if they really exists? So, I went back to my original clear acetate sheets by Grafix. I found them sold by single sheets at Custom Crops and placed my order. I called their customer service and asked when the order would be shipped. Their Customer Rep was so nice and kindly put a "rush" comment on my order, but even with that it I wouldn't get my package until the beginning of next week.

With all the trouble I had already encounter, my mojo left running out any possible exit. I felt like no matter how much I try to get something done early so I don't have end up rushing or staying up late into the wee hours of the morning, it just doesn't work. I was in a complete state of Scrapbook Depression. I didn't feel like touching a single piece of paper, adhesive, punch, NOTHING.

Then on the evening of December 10th, my younger sisters call to let me know that my 48-year-old mother had suffered from a STROKE! What?! What else could go wrong? My mother was admitted that night, but I was not allowed to visit as visiting hours were over. So the next day, nice and early I was at the hospital. I was glad to see my mother in a somewhat okay state. She had no facial consequences, but all of her left side had lost some sensibility and was very weak. At that point the Doctors said that it had been an Acute Stroke, but they had to run a few tests to make sure. And here is the funny part, these test wouldn't be done until Monday because the departments are closed during the weekend! WTH?! Really? Since when is a hospital "closed" on the weekends? There was nothing we could do until Monday. Monday comes and I'm there to help her out. After a few arguments with a couple of nurses and doctors she had her tests done - MRI, MRA, CT Scan, a bunch of other things I can't remember. When the test results came back a day or two later, it showed no signs that a stroke had occurred. THANK GOD! But then what was it? Why was and is her left side still so weak? Some more testing. The neurologist that had been seeing her said it could be a sort of migraine that causes stroke-like symptoms. This diagnosis came about 5 days AFTER she had been admitted. Everything was looking good for her to go home soon. But we still had to speak to one more doctor before a final decision was made. On Thursday, December 16th we spoke to an Opthalmologist, who found some microaneurysm in the retina of both her eyes. After TONS of questions, he suggested it could be a possible case of Multiple Sclerosis(MS) but that she'd have to get a few tests done before a diagnosis could be made. How many more tests is she going to go thru?! By this time our brains hurt of all the information we were given. One doctor said THIS while the other said THAT and another one said NOTHING. Will we ever find an answer? Later that day, she was discharged with a private nurse to give her some rehab therapy at home. She is doing okay and stress of the whole situation has take a toll on all of us. We are just glad that she is doing well and that it turn out to be something worse.

And here we are, December 19th, 5 days away from Christmas and my all of my project ideas put on hold. Somewhere during the week my mom was in the hospital I received my order from Custom Crops, but I was in no mood to open it or even play with my Cricut. When I finally did open the package, I was surprised to pull out the EXACT same THICK plastic sheets as in my previous order! Again that feeling of hopelessness appeared. If I had any hopes of being able to accomplish some of my project ideas they were definitely diminished with the contents of that package. But I've never given up very easily, so decided to give it another try.

I went back to my A2 Card Holder and cut it out using the plastic sheets by Grafix. I didn't get a complete clean cut, but it was manageable - I just add to finish cutting it out with scissors or a craft knife. Did the same with the Skinny Box. And in the matter of ONE day I had 2 of my projects completed. Right now, I'm in the mist of completing project idea #4 and project idea #5. And tomorrow I hope to be able to complete project #6, as it will be my son's first-grade teacher's gift. Unfortunately, I won't be able to share these with you until after Christmas. But don't worry, I have already made plans to use these very same projects for some Valentine's Day gifts.

If you're still with me, I want to THANK you for listening thru most of my December. I won't be posting anything until after Christmas and maybe that won't even be possible. I have to see how the schedule goes around here with DS#1 having Winter Break and a possible Work Break from DH.

I want to take this time to wish you all a very MERRY CHRISTMAS and a HAPPY NEW YEAR! Have a HAPPY and SAFE HOLIDAY!