Monday, December 31, 2007

A Year of Blessings

As we look forward to the New Year beginning tomorrow, I really wanted to make something to keep track of all the blessings God bestows upon me everyday this year. I stumbled across this article by Emily Falconbridge ( a couple of weeks ago and decided right then and there to make one and do this each and every week for 2008, so here is my book and a few of the pages I made to go in it. A great way to use up all the paper journaling pieces and such that are in my stash. It's all cute and fat and random and I totally love it! :D We are going to take time each day this year to write down something we are thankful for - it may only be a word or a short story for the week, but the idea is to record our gratefulness, NO MATTER WHAT may be happening in our lives at the moment. It will be a great way to look at the bright side of things. Amy is playing along with me and creating her book as we speak. I'm sure she will post hers here too.

Happy New Year to all of you! Stay safe my friends!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Keep 'em coming!

I had a very productive scrappy streak leading up to Christmas and here are a few pages I completed in the scrappy diet.

I will save Christmas for another, much more special post.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Distance stinks

So I have been scrapping away - trying to use up the stash. It feels good to finally get back to scrapping actual pages and not just making presents. Don't get me wrong I love making things for people - but at the end of the day I am a scrapbooker and I love to play with my pictures and my scrappy goodies. Well one of my favourite pictures was of Jackson and Rachel. Jennifer snapped it about 30 minutes after we arrived in California.

Jennifer and I talk on the phone often and while the distance stinks we are adults and we know that we will see each other eventually. The kids don't have this daily interaction - because let's face it two 5 year olds on the phone does not make for great conversation ... they are only interested in what they are saying, the talk into the wrong part of the phone and we hear a lot of "What" and "Whad 'ya say". I was wondering how long it would take for the kids to warm up to each other when we got to the hotel at Disneyland. Once Rachel figured out that there was no way in the world Jennifer was going to teach her how to knit that night - she turned to Jackson, wanted to get her jammies on immediately and they made plans for a sleepover.

Here is the layout I did to showcase this fabulous picture ... their faces say it all!!!

It reminds me of the very first picture I have of the two of them together - this one was taken Oct 12, 2004 in my backyard in Fort Morgan. Jason and Rachel planted a garden every year and this was one of the carrots from that summer's garden ... look how little they were - Rachel is 2 1/2 and Jack is a few months shy of 2 in this one. Still one of my all time favourite pictures!!

So while distance stinks - I am glad to know that it does not seem to have affected the relationship between my baby girl and her best friend Jackson!! Warms my heart!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

van der Kooi tree Saga part TROIS

Yes - you read that correctly PART THREE. How can there be more to the story of the 2007 Christmas tree at our house you might ask. Well I am happy with our new squat little tree - he is fufilling his Christmas destiny and actually is a very sweet little tree in the corner of the room. He smells pretty and holds the ornaments very nicely. I have taken to calling him Frank - and I think he likes his name.

Last night at 2am we heard a crash - I thought the cat had broken a glass in the kitchen. Jason jumped up and about 5 minutes later I heard another crash. This one woke Rachel up and I yelled - are you OK to Jason to which his reply was NO! I jumped up thinking he was hurt - nope just mad because the 1st crash was the tree falling down .. the 2nd one was it falling down AGAIN after Jason had stood it back up. One of my childhood ornaments broke (from 1975) and then the beautiful handmade ornament that we got when Rachel was born lost a wing - she is now a one winged angel (till I get my glue to fix her). Our family 2002 ornament has a little chip - can be fixed with paint. The one I am really sad about is the special 2000 one that Jason's mom gave us - it was from a set of 3 and it is not even recognizable anymore :( As for the rest of the broken ones - they are just round balls that can be replaced. Frank is now anchored to the wall in true Nova Scotia fashion

May this be the last in the continuing story about our Christmas tree this year!!!!!

OH and as for me and the stash diet ... I did 3 - count em 3 layouts last night!!! So I think I am up to 15!!!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A complete Hodge Podge

This week has been a crazy mix of sadness over my parents leaving, frustration with the sensors, excitement for Christmas just right around the corner, and a little sneaky unwrapping of Secret Santa gifts both here and in Midland.

First things first, Jackson received his Golden Sneaker award yesterday and was so proud. He is taking it to school tomorrow to show all his friends who helped us raise money for JDRF. And speaking of JDRF, I am the Family Teams Walk Chair for the 2008 walk here in Fresno in June. I get to personally contact all the teams as they register for the walk and offer support as they begin their fundraising efforts. We also get to tell our family story at the Walk Kick-Off. Yay!

The sensors are a frustrating necessity in Jackson's life. Troubleshooting is difficult, but worth it to see the trends in his blood sugars. I have been praying rather fervently this week for a cure while I am checking blood sugars until 1:00 a.m. UGH!

The stash diet is going super fabulous! I finished 3 pages just this afternoon and now I am really on a roll! Can you tell that the teacher gifts are finally done? LOL!
Here are the ones from this afternoon, I got started on Disney pictures and can't wait to get more printed now.

I will leave you with a sweet story about the kindness of strangers. Yesterday it rained all day long! It was by no means a downpour, but a steady rain, for sure. After a short meeting with the coordinator of the Fresno walk at Starbucks I was attempting to get the boys and all my stuff in the car in the rain. A kind and sweet gentleman walked up and handed me a brand new umbrella and said, "looks like you need this, Merry Christmas!" I could have squeezed him for his kindness. I am going to get another new umbrella for my car to pay it forward for the next rain storm.
See, I told you it was a hodge podge! :D

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The vanderkooi Christmas Tree Part DEUX

OK so here it is the 18th of December and we have had to decorate ANOTHER tree. Yes our first tree - which was tall and beautiful and smelled yummy - died. Yes I know that once the tree is cut down it is already technically dead BUT like flowers they stay nice and pretty in the water in the house for at least a few weeks. However this tree sooooo did NOT. It turned this weird brownish/green colour and it smelled SO bad! We changed all the water in the tree stand (my husband is an geeky engineer and set up a siphon system) - the new water made the tree perk up a little, but the smell was still yucky! Then we cut the bottom off to see if that would help - it did not - the smell was still awful. We decided to get a new tree and when Jason emptied the tree stand to clean it - the water had a weird purple tone and the bottom of the tree was black as charcoal. Very strange!

Anyway after much discussion we went out to find a new tree ... afterall you can't have a smelly brown tree in the house for Christmas. We went back to the tree lot to check things out there and I just could not bring myself to pay another $60 for a 5ft tree. So then we went to Home Depot and they had tons of trees and they were much more reasonably priced. The one we picked is kind of short and squat and rather rectangular in shape ... but it looks cute all decorated. Rachel put the angel on top last night and so we we are now ready for Santa to come and celebrate Jesus' birthday!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Thank you Grandma and PaPa!

We miss you already! What a fun week we had with my parents. It is always nice for them to see where we live and be a little part of the boys' daily lives. We didn't plan too much and just had a wonderful time. Here is a little picture of the boys in their new camo jammies from Grandma and PaPa.

Stash Diet UpDate for Jennifer:

3 Layouts completed

5 Decorated Calendars

3 Handmade Journals

4 Decorated Photo Books

Thursday, December 13, 2007

On the first day of Christmas....

Today marked the beginning of the Secret Santa 12 days of Christmas at A Peek Into Yesterday. This is my favorite time of year! I have been VERY good so far and only opened what I am allowed. Today I got a great little tube of green felt trim that I am pretty sure is from Creative Imaginations Creative Cafe. I have 3 more little tubes to open throughout the 12 days so I am anxious to see what's inside. Amy got a great set of Mickey Mouse shaped buttons. Our Secret Santa's really know us well this year.

On another note, my parents are here in Fresno visiting for a week. We have had lots of fun just hanging out. I am sure there will be lots of tears on Saturday night when they leave, but for now we are just enjoying each other. Yesterday we headed over to the Fresno Chaffee Zoo for the afternoon. It was a little chilly, but we got to see the Sea Lion feeding and that was quite fun. Pismo, the Sea Lion and Buck, the Seal put on a great little show for us. It was like having the entire zoo to ourselves. I didn't realize I didn't have a memory card in my camera and my dad's camera battery died so we didn't think we could get any pictures of the afternoon. After a few minutes, I thought maybe their memory card could work in my camera so we tried it and got a few photos in.

Here is one on my parents and the boys:

Sunday, December 9, 2007

2 layouts down...

48 to go! Oh, that sounds like so many, but I am on a roll now. No matter that I don't have all my Christmas presents finished and my parents show up today. I am having fun creating right now.
So here are my first two:

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Happy Birthday Jackson!

Our sweet and spiky-haired little dude is 5 today! We are off to celebrate with Chuck E Cheese later this afternoon. I am so glad this boy is my son.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Simplify - continued

Well the stash diet is ON. So far I am up to 3 layouts (1 actual layout and two altered projects).

I made this Jacob's ladder book the other night. Found the instructions on It took a while to make, but it is so fun!!!!

Also - mom decided that she would buy Rachel's new cowboy boots for Christmas. I was given instructions to let her pick them out herself. Of course I kept showing the brown ones, the cute beige and pink ones, even a pair with blue embridered flowers on the beige swede. This is what we left the store with ...

If I had called and told mom that she chose the cute beige and pink ones I would have heard "No she did not - go back and let her choose". So now I have these and she wears them only with skirts. For the people who know Rachel they would agree that these are the boots that she would have chosen. She thinks they are fabulous! I guess that is all that counts!!

Sunday, December 2, 2007


In an effort to get rid of "stuff" in my life, I am embarking (along with Amy) on a "stash diet". A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon a blog where the scrapbooker was on a stash diet for 50 layouts. She couldn't buy anything new until those layouts were finished. It sounded like a great idea and I could sure use the space that using what I already own would provide in my scrappy space. I am excited to use what I have and still make wonderful pages - another gal I know said my kids aren't going to look at their books 20 years from now and say, "oh man, that is the time when mom used all the 'old stuff' on our pages." That made a lot of sense to me and I am feeling liberated not held back by this challenge.

And so it begins...the rules are as follows.
1. Create 50 layouts using only products, tools, and supplies we have on hand.
2. Cardstock and adhesive can be purchased when needed. Who can make many pages with no adhesive?
3. Gift certificates, RAK's, DT kits are not included -those can be used.
4. Larger altered projects count as 1 layout.

I can't wait to get started! I think it will take me about 3 months total and the savings during that time will be so nice for the budget. I think when I am done I will treat myself to something wonderful like a manicure or a special new outfit. I am not going to use it for scrappy supplies at all. WOW!

How about you? Would you like to join us in this diet? Maybe we can lose some weight along the way too, LOL.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

We are Back .....

... and we had SO much fun!!! Although there were lots of people at Disneyland - we did not think we had to wait in line that much. In all it was a great time to be in Disney - the Christmas decorations and celebrations were awesome!!! Here are just a few pictures of all our fun!!! Some of our favourite rides included -

Space Mountain (Jennifer was not as fond of this as Ken, Rachel, Kenny and I - Jason did not ride it)
Soaring Over California - this was totally awesome.
Buzz Lightyear - this was one of Jackson's favourites
Pirates of the Carribean - this was AWESOME - Kaden thought the animals were all real - so cute!
California Screaming - Kenny, Ken and I loved this roller coaster.

We stood in line for a LOOOONG time to meet Mickey - totally worth it!!!!!!!

Jackson loves Pluto so he was most excited to see him!!

The Incredibles holds a special place in our worlds - especially for Jennifer so this was so fun!

Watching the parade - everything was all done up for Christmas - so much fun!!!

Attempts to get family pictures for Christmas cards were not as easy as we had hoped!!!

A huge highlight for the kids!!! Lightning McQueen! How fun!

Jason and I took Rachel to the Princess Lunch and she thought it was fabulous. She loved all the Princesses - but chose a Belle t-shirt!

Monday, November 19, 2007

We're Off to See the Mouse & All His Friends

The suitcases are packed, the tickets are booked and we are good to GO! We will all meet at our Hotel tomorrow night - wahoo!! Then wednesday - friday we are playing with the mouse at Disneyland. This is a celebration for Jackson getting his pump - and now an extra one since he will also be getting continuous glucose monitoring!!! A very special Thanksgiving in our families for sure.

It has been over a year since we have all been together (although Jennifer and I saw each other in June). I just can't wait to be in California and just be hanging out like old times. This is going to be SO much fun - in a taking 4 kids to Disney kind of way!!!!!!!

See y'all after the holiday with pictures. Until then have a happy and safe Thanksgiving with all your loved ones.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Answered Prayers

God is just so good! I can't say it enough. Yesterday was a day for joy and thanksgiving in our house because our insurance company decided to cover the Continuous Glucose Monitoring Sensors for Jackson. What does that mean? It means we will have real time glucose readings, safety alarms, and glucose trend data around the clock. We will know what Jackson's blood sugars are without having to poke his little finger and better yet we will have these readings EVERY MINUTE OF EVERY DAY!!!!! This stands to revolutionize the way we take care of our little guy. Here is a picture of what it will look like on his body, although he wears his pump on his bottom where there is some fat.

The story about how this happened is rather long, but the gist of it is, we chose Jackson's pump a year ago with the hope that someday he would be able to get these sensors. We had no idea how soon that would be. Most insurance companies won't cover them, especially for children under age 7 and we happen to have one of the few that consider paying on a case by case basis. Ken spoke with a nurse from the insurance a couple of days ago and after his conversation we were mobilizing for a denial of benefits. They just don't get what it is like to live with this disease! Instead, she called Ken back yesterday morning and told him as a result of their conversation (and Ken's powers of negotiation) that they are going to make an exception for our little guy. I think it is because Ken loves him so much that he will do whatever it takes to make Jackson's life better and stronger and longer. I seriously love this man!

OK, so back to the subject, they are paying and we are so happy! I can't wait to be able to put dinner on the table and let Jackson just eat with only a look at his pump. And when he is going low, the pump will tell us. No more middle of the night checks. Ahhh. It is going to be a fun and crazy ride and I can't wait to get on!

On another Diabetes note, we received a message from JDRF today that our team raised almost 1/6th of the total amount for the Walk to Cure Diabetes this past June. Jack's Pack officially raised over $7,000! I am so thankful for the research and dedication of this great organization.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Tuesday Project Prompt

So we are coming upon the season of needing gift tags. I made these little tags - 2.5x2.5 inches using scraps. They are not especially Christmas-y but you get the idea. They were totally quick and easy to make.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Happy Birthday to Ken

Well now all 4 parents in the Allred/vanderKooi world are officially in their 30's. Hopefully Ken will have a great relaxing day watching football!!
ETA: He got to celebrate in style at the final game of the World Series a few weeks ago. The trip of a lifetime and one he had been dreaming of since he was a little boy. Happy Birthday Honey! Glad you are in this life with me! Love, Jennifer

Friday, November 9, 2007

What I am working on ...

Amy here ... been busy crafting away ... here are 4 cards that I made for Rachel's teacher. Her favourite colour is purple and I love these new papers from Sassafrass Lass!

My hair - Day 2

OK so I did not do as good a job as Donia ... but I did not do too badly!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Look what I did ....

Now let's see if I can make it look like this on my own tomorrow ...

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Tuesday Project Prompt

Happy tuesday everyone! I (Amy) was thinking today would be a great day to start our project prompts - being that Christmas is on its way.

So the first project ... decorated boxes ... they are little - but can be oh so cute - and who would not love to get a present in one of these ... wouldn't a gift card look cute in here?? I made the top one and Jennifer made the one on the bottom.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Pocketful of Treasures

YAY! I (Jennifer) was chosen as a member of the Pocketful of Treasures Design Team for a second term. I really enjoyed getting to know the girls there and especially the teaching aspect. I have lots of classes in my little heading just screaming to be taught. This year they decided to make the term only 6 months because there is just so much talent here in Fresno and they want to spread the love. I look forward to meeting and working with a new bunch of ladies! If you are in the Fresno/Clovis area this is the place to be!!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

I'm here too!

Hee Hee! Look at me! I can actually remember the log in stuff right now. Just popping to say hi and see if Amy notices I was here. :) A few thoughts this morning about living on the edge have my mind turning and I think I need a bit of a nap. For now, here is a page I finished up last night of my Carseat Cowboy.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Crafting on Saturday

So Jennifer is off teaching her class - there were 6 people signed up as of last night. She has worked so hard to get classes to hold so this is so awesome!!

While Jennifer is teaching today I am busy crafting here at home. I am busy making Christmas presents for people. Stay tuned as I will be posting the instructions to make some of them here soon!

So there is this nasty squirrel who lives in the Pecan tree in our backyard. Everytime our poor cat goes outside that nasty squirrel climbs down the tree and starts screaming at Jennifer (yes Rachel named her cat after the person Jennifer). As soon as she comes back inside the squirrel stops. So I went out to check out this nasty little creature - and it started yelling at me!! At least now the cat and Jennifer's dog Reggie have something in common - except that in Jennifer's backyard it is birds who are bugging the dog!

Friday, November 2, 2007

What are we working on?

Tomorrow Jennifer will be teaching her first class at her local scrappy store ... Pocket Full of Treasures. I am so excited for her!! Wish I had a scrappy store here so I could get some teaching in!!! Oh well - someday. Also keep checking in on us ... we are going to do some class projects here on the blog - very exciting!

For now here we are this past June on our cruise ...


OK here it is our blog and we are going to commit to updating it often!!