The life and words of Ashley, Erin, and Michelle

Ideas for Scrapbooking Changes Over Time September 14, 2010

Have you ever said or heard the phrase “They grow up so fast”? Kids aren’t the only ones who change (quickly or slowly) over time, though. Another great example would be pregnancy – possibly the most rapid and visible change a women will ever undergo! Or, for you green thumbs out there, do you love watching your garden go from a square of black soil, to a lush expanse of greenery, to a colorful crop of ripe goodies or fragrant flowers? Scrapbooking a single photo of your garden in full bloom or your child at age four is great, but scrapping a page about how that child or garden changed over time tells a fuller story. And it’s just so much fun to see those seemingly-small changes week by week (or month by month, or year by year, etc.) add up over time to a much bigger change! In the examples here of my weekly belly photo scrapbook pages, if you compare one week to the next there’s not much change. But looking at the beginning and the end of one trimester shows quite a difference! (Click on images for full credits)

It takes commitment and discipline to track changes over time. I’m terribly forgetful – despite reminders set on both my phone and my husband’s, we would often forget to take a picture until right before bedtime, or even the next day. But even if I was tired, or didn’t feel like it, I made myself take that picture. Often it was in front of my bathroom mirror, or holding the camera out in front of my belly myself!

Here are some other ideas of what you could track over time: child’s growth (daily, weekly, monthly, and/or yearly), your yard, your garden, a single flower or vegetable plant (from planting all the way to blooming), a room in your house, school classroom, haircuts, your body (especially if you’re on a diet or trying to lose weight – maybe pair each picture with your weight that day/week/month?), holiday preparations (photo a day in December?).

All of these examples are things that may not show a big difference day to day, but it’s fascinating to see that series of photos side by side – a vivid representation of the passage of time.

To help you get started, here’s a few templates I found that are perfect for scrapping changes over time (images are linked!):

Here’s one specifically for babies, but could definitely be used for any pictures/theme!

Scrapping with Liz at Scrap Orchard offers this set of templates to scrap your goals:

Now I’d love to hear your thoughts! What are some other changes you can capture over time? Do you have a great template or other resource you can link us up to?


What's Something You Never Believed Until You Experienced It Yourself? July 5, 2010

Filed under: Life in General — michellehuegel @ 6:02 pm
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Until I held my first child in my arms, I didn’t truly believe in the depth of absolute, unconditional love that comes with parenthood. I didn’t comprehend the depth of love God has for me as His child. I didn’t understand the phrase “just wait till you have kids of your own!”

Then they handed me my firstborn, my son. Maybe it wasn’t even that moment. But at some point in the next few hazy, painful, exhilarating weeks I experienced the closest thing to God’s unconditional love that we can experience here on earth – the love of a mother for her child.

Now I’m the one saying “just wait till you have kids” – because no words can describe the feeling. It permeates every aspect of life and colors every interaction with your child.

What is something you never believed in, or that didn’t seem possible or “real” to you, until you experienced it personally?


Multicultural Discussions with an All-Blond Preschool Class February 23, 2010

Filed under: Life in General — Erin Joy @ 12:42 pm
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It was Sunday school on Valentine’s Day. The topic was the fact that Jesus loves everyone. The characters were Jesus and Matthew and Matthew’s tax collector friends.

The major challenge: find a way to show a classroom of blond-haired, blue-eyed children how there are so many different kinds of people in the world.

Clearly, looking at our class where I have the darkest hair, there wasn’t going to be a whole lot of first-hand examples, so I decided to make a trip to the library. I could have gone to the one in Lowell, but I knew the one between my work and home was significantly larger, so it gave me hopes that I would more likely be able to find something to help me out.

Walking into the children’s section at the library was incredibly overwhelming. Where was I supposed to find a book with photos of lots of different kids in between Angelina Ballerina and Walter the Farting Dog?

I walked to the front desk, and I talked to the librarian at the counter. She told me that our libraries are trying to place an emphasis on multicultural awareness, so there should be something for me. She then asked how old the kids were. I said between two and five.

“Sadly,” she said, “we have decided to make the program cover everyone except preschool age because no one makes multicultural books for preschoolers.” How disappointing. (As I look back, I think it’d be a great area to market, but at the time, all I could think about was how irritated I was.)

She then directed me to the children’s librarian, who directed me to a couple books, but they didn’t have a variety of people in any one of them. She seemed annoyed with me when I said, “Are there any books with less painted pictures?” She eventually found the perfect book with a ton of National Geographic pictures in it (everything from a kid herding cows in Africa to Amish kids playing ball in Pennsylvania).

The following Sunday we continued to learn about how there were differences between us and other people in the world by what we ate. I brought in tortilla chips, rice (with chopsticks) and bananas. I was impressed that the two oldest were able to use their chopsticks pretty well. We also talked about how a missionary is someone who tells people in other countries that Jesus loves them and sometimes they make sure the other people have a Bible in their language. As always, it was a thrill to see the excited looks on each of the children’s faces when they heard all of this.

For all that learning those kids have been doing, they somehow managed to associate the word “Europe” with “syrup.” But that’s preschoolers for you.


Calloused Knees December 15, 2009

Filed under: Life in General — Erin Joy @ 11:09 pm
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When I first started taking photos, I never thought of it as a physically taxing job. But it is.

I am always on my knees talking to children. I’m always on my knees eying them through my viewfinder. I’m always lifting blocks, dragging and rolling backgrounds, or jumping up and down to get kids attention. It’s insane.

As one lady said to me the other night, after attempting half a session with her four children, “You must go home every night exhausted from this job.”

It’s true, I do. But I love seeing the kids in their cute outfits, and catching those occasional quirky smiles between moments of hysteria makes every moment worth it.

Having worked in the photo studio for a couple months now, I have begun to have pretty calloused knees. I was warned toward the start that I’d deal with the knees of my pants being worn out, but I never imagined my actual knees would begin to be worn. Maybe I should have invested in a pair of knee pads to put under my pants.

Growing up, I always heard about how people who had calloused knees from praying so much. I just thought it was an expression, not something that could actually happen to a person’s body.

I feel a bit ashamed that I’ve never realized it until now, when I’m being paid to be on my knees all day. As with any callouses, your knees are rough, and they catch on material that rubs up against them — in this case, your pants. And no matter how much lotion you scrub on them, your hands end up ten times softer than your knees.

That makes me wonder: how often do Christians really physically exert themselves in prayer? Sure, we’ll get down on our knees if we’re paid or if it’s something fun to do like play with children, but we’re pretty quick to curl up nice and comfortably in prayer. Even churches that do kneel on a regular basis have kneeling pads so as not to cause callouses on the knees of their parishioners.

But even with those kneeling pads gone, everyone knows that a decent workout isn’t going to impact you if you’re only doing it on the weekends. What about every day of the week? Is prayer really driving us to our knees in focus, or has it become a passing thought? Should prayer have more of a physical impact on our lives?


December Drama Days 6 and 7 December 7, 2009

Regurgitated directly from my brain for your reading … uh … pleasure. I hope.

Dec. 6th

After church and an amazing lunch at my mom’s (we’re all enjoying the fruits of her being home instead of working all day!), we spent the day with Josh’s family. I always enjoy that time, because they take over Cai and let me chill out with my computer or TV or whatever! “Nana” insists on feeding, changing, playing with, and cuddling him—which gives me a much-needed break! I wish they could see him more often, but once a week or every other week is the most we can afford to get down to Mishawaka. Gas is expensive. L

I spent most the afternoon shopping for and poring over Christmas calendar gift ideas. Everyone seemed to like them last year, but I don’t want to do the same exact thing (digital-scrap 4×6 size pages, insert into photo flip books, paper-scrap-decorate front cover). So I FINALLY settled on some cute CD and mini (smaller than 4×6) calendar templates. I had no clue how many options were out there! Wish I had time to design my own from scrap, but unfortunately using templates and choosing my own paper/embellies is as good as it’s gonna get this year. I mean, with a new baby, something’s gotta go, right? I still haven’t decided on a Christmas card. Too many options. I really don’t do well with an overabundance of choices. Entrepreneurs have oversaturated the market (any market) with waaaay too many options. Hazardous for decision-challenged shoppers like me!

Dec. 7th

Can it possibly be one whole week into December?! Where did the days go?? Oh yeah, I have a documented record of where they went, so no funny business possible. Today I furthered my Christmas spirit by playing Cat Country 99.9 (all-Christmas music all the time in December!) while madly cleaning. Finally eked out a place for stockings on the wall behind our midget tree. My immediate family never did the stocking thing, but my Lewis grandparents always hung a stocking for each grandchild, and it’s a family tradition to get a picture of all the kids in front of the “stocking wall” every Christmas. Over the years, there has been some discussion of changing walls, since we really don’t fit anymore. One line of grandkids has become about three rows! There’s now 12 “full-blooded” grandkids, but usually there’s extra every year—foreign exchange students, foster kids of my aunt’s, step-grandkids, boyfriends, etc. All that to say, I’ve always loved opening my stocking, stuffed full of fun and useful little goodies, candy, gum, and so on. So the Huegel household is going to open stockings this year :). A new tradition we’re going to start is writing letters to each other to stick in the stockings, which will hopefully become a sweet keepsake. Or that’s the plan. Maybe it’ll be really lame. But every great tradition must start sometime, right?

On a more depressing note, Cai fussed through most the day. I’m fairly impressed with how much I got done despite his rough day. Spent two hours trying to get him down for a nap, and still ended up letting him cry himself to sleep. Same story for bedtime. As I write this, it’s 10:27, and he just finally quit crying in his crib within the last few minutes. I put him to bed for the first time before 8pm.  We had been doing much better, so I suspect he’s not feeling well. At least that’s what I’ve been telling myself. It’s easier to feel sorry and “motherly” for him instead of irritated that way. Any mothers out there who’ve done the same thing? Maybe I’m just weird or something. Wait, I already knew that…

So anyone else out there making Christmas gifts? What are you making? Cookies, handmade cards, photo books, calendars, scarves, potholders? I need more ideas! 🙂


Flapjack Fiasco December 3, 2009

I am the world’s greatest babysitter. Especially after having the fire department called based on my cooking skills. (And no, they weren’t called to come join us for lunch.)

On Monday, while I was watching my regular rowdy rascals, I went to the kitchen a little later than normal in search of ingredients for peanut butter & jelly sandwiches. Much to my dismay, after already telling the kids I was making what I thought would be a quick lunch, I discovered a lack of bread in the house. While rummaging through the cupboard for something that sounded tasty, I came across a box of Bisquick.

Oh, how I love Bisquick pancakes. I like to think I’m okay at making them. My dad’s the master at making ones the size of your plate or larger. His ability goes so far as to our giving him a giant pancake flipper for Christmas a couple years ago. It looked a lot like this.

So, in honor of my father, and in full knowledge that the children like eating pancakes, I set about on the adventure of making lunch with two kids banging on the table and yelling that they’re hungry and a third screaming just to prove she could be as loud as her older siblings.

The first pancake went well. I would say it was perfect. Round in shape, a wonderful shade of brown on either side, yummy smelling. In order to calm the storm, and not to start a fight, I split the pancake in half and cut it up so that the kids couldn’t notice quite as easily.

I’d thrown the second in the pan to cook while I was getting the first ready for the kids to eat. Unfortunately, I’d had the heat on just a little (or a lot) too high, and by the time I looked back over at the batter, the top was hardly cooked, and the bottom was smoking just a lovely shade of, oh, black.

Having run into this issue on occasion before, I decided to at least cook the opposite side in order to scrape off some of the pancake to eat. It was mine anyways.

I looked around at that time, searching for a smoke detector to wave smoke away from in hopes it wouldn’t go off. When I didn’t find one, I thought it odd, but I figured I just didn’t recognize it. I didn’t, however, have the common sense to open a window.

As a result, the little smoke there was floated and found the ADT smoke alarm, setting it off in an awful screaming beep and alerting the security company to my follies, who in turn called the fire department before calling the house. After I explained the situation, they called off the alarm to the fire department. An inside source told me they even announced to everyone listening that “the babysitter burnt the pancakes.”

Great, now everyone in town knows of my mad cooking skills.

It wasn’t for another hour that I had the opportunity to eat my own pancake, once all the kids were in bed for their naps or “rest times”.

On the upside, the kids and I made a fort out of a giant blanket and the kitchen chairs later on that afternoon to make up for the lunchtime chaos. It was a hit, and even I momentarily forgot about the stress.

Looking back, I find it amusing that the kids continued to sit quietly at the table, munching away at the first pancake while all of this went on. The only time any of them seemed distressed was when they ran out of pancake, not when they heard the alarm go off. I wonder if Mommy has this issue often.


Fruitless Envy November 1, 2009

Filed under: Life in General — Erin Joy @ 9:00 pm
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There are certain people in my life who seem to have exactly what I want:

  • the comfort of a great (non-temporary) job they are passionate about,
  • the adoration of a loving husband,
  • the creativity that can spark awe in the dullest of imaginations,
  • impressively productive will power,
  • the cute kids,
  • means to support so many different good causes,
  • world-wide travel,
  • an adventuresome nature that goes beyond “what if”.

And those are just a few of the things.

Sometimes those people spark me as inspiration, like when Katie came up with the reason and the means for us to dress as ninjas and slink through the night to spy on a suspected statue thief. There’s no way I would have done that on my own, and that’s become one of my favorite memories, largely for that reason alone.

There are other times, however, when I become envious of the people I hope would have inspired me. For instance, I see no relationship or children in the near future. Yes, I steal other people’s children on occasion, but I’m repeatedly told that it’s not the same as having your own.

I’m fully aware of the fact that the Bible describes envy as “unclean” (Mark 7:22) and “meaningless” (Ecclesiastes 4:4), and that it says it “rots your bones” (Proverbs 14:30). It’s true. No matter how much motivation envy brings about, you never really achieve what you were aiming at. You never truly are satisfied with what you have.

Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary puts it this way:

Pronunciation: \ˈen-vē\
Function: noun
Date: 13th century

1 : painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another joined with a desire to possess the same advantage

Clearly, that pain is not going to be comforted by some sort of effort on our part. The pain only leaves when “the desire to possess the same advantage” leaves. We need to learn to be thankful for where we are in life and for what we have. As I’m repeatedly telling the preschoolers in my Sunday school class, we have many, many things that God’s given us to be thankful for. We just have to take the time to think about them.

So, as I sit and look at that list, I wonder, How can I turn that around?

  • the comfort of a great (non-temporary) job they are passionate about, I have a job, one that has potential to become permanent.
  • the adoration of a loving husband, I’m not so old that this could never happen. I know someone who found love at 80 years of age.
  • the creativity that can spark awe in the dullest of imaginations, God has given us resources to inspire us on our not-so-creative days.
  • impressively productive will power, God gives me the strength to get done what needs to be.
  • the cute kids, I steal everyone else’s kids . . . and I get to give them back!
  • means to support so many different good causes, I can pray, and I know firsthand that God answers those prayers.
  • world-wide travel, I learn something new about where I live on a regular basis, and I have traveled far more than the average Joe.
  • an adventuresome nature that goes beyond “what if”. I am inspired and challenged by friends around me, even if those friends are only two to five years old.

How can you take your list of things you envy in others and turn them into reasons to be thankful?