Tag Archives: scrapbooking

Happiness is…

love-is-side-by-sideI may be dating myself, but back in the 1970’s there were cute cartoon images, often portrayed by a little chubby couple, and quotes of “Love is…”  I was thinking of them the other day and it got me to wondering, what if we applied that formula to  happiness?  What makes a person happy?

I started jotting down things that make me happy.  There are so many simple things in life that bring pleasure.  I  suggest you make your own happy list.  You will realize how many wonderful things there are that bring joy to you every day.


Happiness is…

…a long weekend
…a cup of coffee and a good book
…a child’s laughter
…the smell of freshly mowed grasshappiness-is-a-family-vacation
…getting together with family
…a sunny day
…a day shooting pictures
…good friends
…the smell of lilacs
…a day scrapbooking
…time with grandchildren
…art fairs and craft shows
…children in costume yelling trick-or-treat
…singing and dancing to the radio
…planning a trip
…visiting somewhere you have never been
…traditions
…a warm summer day
…an old-fashioned country fair
… listening to a child’s viewpoint on life
…kettle korn popcorn and caramel apples
…time with your spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend, significant other
…the glow of a fireplace
…creating Easter baskets and watching the kids go through them
…the beauty of freshly fallen snow
…carnations
…watching a parade
…the sound of water along the shore
…snuggling under a warm blankethappiness-is-a-warm-blanket
…front porch sitting
…handwritten letters
…peanut butter on a spoon
…walking a nature trail
…relaxing in a hot tub
…the glow of a Christmas tree
…historical and cultural events
…memories
…discovering and learning about your ancestors
…doing RAKs (Random Acts of Kindness)
…unexpected surprises
…a feeling of accomplishment
…seeing my byline on writings
…writing, writing, writing

This isn’t the end.  The more I think, the more I realize a lot of things make me happy, bring a smile to my face.  I hope you have lots of things to put on your own “Happiness Is… ” list.

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Filed under communication, Discoveries, exploration, Family, Life is a Melting Pot, memoir, reality, time

Is it Better or Worse?

Garage Yard Sale Cartoon 5In trying to clean things out and prepare for a yard sale this weekend when walking through my home it is difficult to determine if things are better or worse then they were a week, month, or year ago.  I’m in that messy time when things appear worse even though they are getting better.

Garage Yard Sale SignI’m bringing things up from the basement and pricing them for garage sale, then stacking the boxes under a table in my TV room.  I am preparing to put a desk into the garage sale and bring a different desk into it’s spot.  To do that I had to empty out other furniture and items in the landing and the scrapbooking room itself to allow space for the exchange to take place.

'Pssst, Bill... the sale's going great, but we're getting low on stuff. Make another run to the landfill and bring back whatever you can get your hands on.'

‘Pssst, Bill… the sale’s going great, but we’re getting low on stuff. Make another run to the landfill and bring back whatever you can get your hands on.’

I feel like I have stuff everywhere, and there is so much more to tackle that an outsider would never realize how much I have already improved and/or eliminated.  Such is life when you have been married to someone who has numerous hobbies, likes, and was once a scrapper, as in goes around picking up metal scrap and any other “treasures” that can be found.  Then in the last year of his life he also began attending garage sales and estate sales and purchasing numerous items.  Need I say I feel a bit overrun?

So Is it Better or Worse?  It is better, but right now some areas look a lot worse!

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Filed under Cleaning, home, Life is a Melting Pot, reality

Looking Back: A Facebook Review

Every  morning around 7 AM I receive a notification from Facebook that there are memories from previous years on that date.  I look forward to reviewing those memories, looking back on what I was doing or sharing in previous years.  Some of those memories I skim over,  some I share again.

We go about our day-to-day lives and don’t realize how we change over time.  I notice that the type of information I consider relevant has changed.  Postings about day-to-day life have changed.  It is fun to see what I was doing in college a few years ago, how many days I would go without being on Facebook because I was busy, or even the activities I was partaking in on any particular date or year.

I have shared a lot of pictures over the years.  When those pop up on my memories feed it is fun to see how my grandchildren have grown, or the changes in the appearance of my kids, myself and my husband.  Places I have visited, events I have attended, and more are shared through photographs on my personal page, as well as the Times Gone By Photography page I have.

Another fun thing I discovered in looking back is the notes I have posted on my Facebook page.  For several years now I have shared a challenge where you try to read 52 books in a year, and although I have never made it to 52 I have those “notes” from every year where I listed each book I read, the author, whether fiction or non-fiction and the number of pages.  I recently came across a couple other postings I did, one answering questions about how well you know your spouse, and another where you list 25 things about yourself.  I may do that one again, because things have changed.  I am now in the processing of printing off some of the things I discovered and saving them in a scrapbook or notebook for future look backs by myself and/or my children and grandchildren.

We live in a digital world.  Everything is handled electronically and people, young people especially, do not keep things in a printed, paper format.  Give consideration to printing off and saving in a notebook some of the things you share electronically.  Make it a scrapbook of you.  Future generations will be glad you did when everything you have done is lost in the cyber world.

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Filed under Activities, Discoveries, exploration, Family, genealogy, Life is a Melting Pot, memoir, reality, Scrapbooking

What Makes a Volunteer?

What is it that causes some people to volunteer repeatedly?  They are active in everything, always jump in to lend a helping hand, and juggle several volunteer positions, full time jobs, and other obligations.

Why is it some people never volunteer?  They will joint an organization, but never go beyond the membership stage.  Even when the organization is in desperate need of assistance, they refuse to lend a helping hand.

I have been a volunteer in a variety of organizations over the past 30+ years.  If you belong to several organizations you find that it is always the same people that volunteer, always picking up the slack while others sit idly by.  What is it that causes this difference in people’s willingness to give.  Why is it some people can juggle huge loads and always take on something else, while others are overwhelmed with one or two things?

This has been on my mind for several reasons.  I belong to the St. Clair County Family History Group.  A few years ago our treasurer passed away unexpectedly, and no one was willing to step up and fill that persons shoes.  After a year one person said she would do it — the only reason she hadn’t volunteered before is because that is the type of work she does for a living, she held other committee positions, and was hoping someone would step up to the plate and take the position.  No one did, so Sue stepped in and has done a phenomenal job for years.  Sue made an announcement in May 2014 that she and her husband were planning to retire and move to Michigan’s U.P. within 1-2 years and that she would no longer be able to handle the position of treasurer.  She announced early so that if someone wanted to take over and have her handy to answer any questions and walk them through the steps while she was still in the area, that would make the transition easy.  No one volunteered.  She has now submitted her “formal” written resignation to the president.  I am wondering, actually doubtful, if anyone will volunteer.Volunteer - Make  a Life by What we Give

Now you may wonder why I don’t take the position.  The reason, I already hold a board position as Vice President, plus I am Newsletter Editor for the club.  I also try to manage the website, a position that was emptied and no one took over.   I am not good with the website and have been asking for about four years for someone to take it over, but no one has.  I announced a year ago that I was willing to hand over the VP position, which only requires you to run the meeting in the event the President is absent, which has never happened in the past 11 years I have been a member, and once a year you put together the Annual Report – a booklet of all the committee chairs annual reports.  No one volunteered and so I continued in that position.   In the same club we have another member who is moving out of state and has announced that her board position and committee chair position will be vacant.     That means we now have two board positions that need to be filled and two committee chair positions that need to be filled immediately.   I have my doubts that there will be anyone who steps up to the plate and takes on the openings, because we have other committee positions that have been vacant for years.

I am also a member of the Blue Water Shutterbug Club and have held various positions over the years, the most recent was as Member at Large — a board position that is relatively easy to have.  The Vice President of that club is moving out of State and had announced that his position would be vacant and someone would need to take over.  Every month before the meeting begins the VP walks around and solicits three members who have had the training to serve as part of a 3-judge panel for the photo competition that month.  The person also has a short 30-60 minute commitment once a week to pre-judge the photos submitted, making sure they are suitable for the categories they have been submitted into.  A relatively easy position with low commitment.  I was not going to be at the meeting in which the elections were taking place, but let the leaving person know that in the event no one volunteered I would take over.  Need I mention that I am now Vice President of the BW Shutterbugs?

I have spent most of my adult life volunteering in various organizations.  When my kids were young I was active in the PTO, serving as secretary for 6-7 years, chairing a committee that gathered and added grocery receipts from a particular store to raise money for the school, chaired a prize committee for the annual carnival, chaperoned field trips and volunteered in the classroom from time to time, all while holding down a full-time job.  I also was co-leader of the girl scouts, leader of the Tiger Cubs, secretary for a collectible club, and in addition to my full-time office position sold Tupperware.  My kids were involved in karate, scouting, AWANA and dance. Oh, I almost forgot, I volunteered in the nursery at the church we were attending.  If I could do that with two young children at home, why can’t people who are retired and have no young children at home dedicate some of their time to an organization?

This past weekend I attended a workshop where the purpose was to handcraft items that will be placed in gift boxes.  Those boxes are donated to hospitals to be presented to parents who give birth to stillborn babies or whose babies die shortly after birth.  They include gowns for the baby to be buried in, tiny stuffed animals, blankets, hats, etc.   A very important and much needed item so I dedicated my Saturday, from noon to 9 pm to help out.  While I was at the workshop someone asked me what I do in my free time.  I guess when you put it all in a list, it overwhelms some people.

What do I do?  I am Vice President and Newsletter Editor of the St. Clair County Family History Group, Vice President of the Blue Water Shutterbug Club, I write a genealogy column for The Lakeshore Guardian, I am an opinion columnist for The Times Herald, I have a weekly blog, I am writing a book about our families dealings with DHS and trying to adopt our granddaughters, my husband and I have a photography business, Times Gone By Photography and we both have photos in a local art gallery, for sale in a local hospital, for sale at a couple local stores and we both have websites on Fine Art America, plus a business Facebook page, Times Gone By Photography.    In addition to that I work full time as a paralegal, and my hobbies include scrapbooking, reading, photography, and genealogy.

When people say I should relax, eliminate some of those items, I respond “Why?”   If you don’t have a wide range of interests and activities life becomes boring.  I don’t want to reach my old age and have nothing to look back on, regrets that I didn’t do things, or be bored in retirement because I have no hobbies or interests to keep me busy.

Now don’t get me wrong, I can do the couch potato in front of the TV just like everyone else.  Then I realize that the things I want to do are sliding away and I get busy again.  My “chill time” gets me re-energized for the next round of activity.

What makes a volunteer?  Why are some people willing to plunge right in wherever needed and others always spend their time on the sidelines, observing but never fully participating?

Are you a volunteer or an observer?  What are your reasons for the position you take on volunteering?

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Filed under Activities, events, friendship, hobbies, impressions, Life is a Melting Pot, mind, time, work

Kicking 2014 Goodbye

While I can’t say its been a horrible year, because there have been some good things, I am ready to kick 2014 to the curb.

Grogan Gravesite.  Copyright 2014 Grace Grogan

Grogan Gravesite. Copyright 2014 Grace Grogan

My father-in-law passed away at the age of 94 on February 11, 2014 and my father passed away at the age of 75 on December 3, 2014.  While my father-in-law at the age of 94 should not come as a surprise, my father at only 75 was a shock.  My sister and I had not yet completed going through my mother’s things (she passed in May 2013) and now have an entire house to contend with.

Although it has not been finalized, we found out that rather than letting us adopt our biological granddaughter she is going to be given to total strangers for adoption. Her younger sister, who we also wanted to adopt, was awarded to her foster care parents for adoption in 2013.    The frustration dealing with DHS and realizing that this is an ongoing problem across the country is what inspired me to write a book about our situation.

Kiley Grogan's photo posted on MARE.org

Kiley Grogan’s photo posted on MARE.org

My ankle, which was severely injured in an accident 4-1/2 years ago, has continued to deteriorate. I was told in September 2013 that I have degenerative arthritis from the accident and will eventually need an ankle fusion. The condition has gotten considerably worse in the past year and I fear the operation will bee needed sooner rather than farther in the distance.

My husband, Ron, began having difficulty swallowing in June/July and by September was a true problem. It was discovered he had a tumor almost completely blocking his esophagus and the tumor was cancerous. He has undergone radiation and chemotherap and has lost about 60 lbs due to his inability to swallow more than thin liquids/broth.  He will have surgery on the 6th of January to remove his esophagus and his stomach will be lifted/stretched up to take its place.

Walking from the boat dock to the lodge.  Photo by Grace Grogan

Walking from the boat dock to the lodge. Photo by Grace Grogan

In the midst of all this chaos we also had some good things. My sister, two of our cousins and I got together for a girls weekend, which we did on an uninhabited island and had a great time. We had traveled together while growing up and then had not spent much time together since becoming adults, so over 34 years.  It was during the burial of my mother in 2013 that the four of us decided to revive our vacation get-togethers.  Spending time with just the four of us on an uninhabited island for two nights was fun.  We had a great time and are in the process of planning another outing this year.

A gathering for the purpose of a memorial service for my in-laws resulted in a min-reunion of my husband’s family.  That lead to plans for another family gathering/reunion in August of this year.  It was great that so many family members who reside in other states were able to make the memorial and plan to attend the reunion again this year.

My husband and I took our motor home out for 11 days, with the first stop being the memorial service for my in-laws, and the next stop being Iron Mountain in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.    From there we took day trips to various counties across the UP with the main objective being to photograph waterfalls.  We also took in a few other sights an spent two days visiting with our son who is located on the west side of the UP.

Bond Falls.  Photo by Grace Grogan

Bond Falls. Photo by Grace Grogan

My husband and I have continued to build our photography business an have had several good sales this year.   We celebrated our good year by purchasing each of us new Nikon D750 Cameras for Christmas and are looking forward to a photography filled year.  We also have a great new photo subject, our newest granchild, Alexandria, born on December 12th.

Alexandria's first Christmas - only 12 days old on December 24th.

Alexandria’s first Christmas – only 12 days old on December 24th.

This was the year I  took a more intense dive into my writing. I started working on a book about my husband’s and my battle with DHS trying to adopt our granddaughters. I continued in my position as newsletter editor of our local genealogy club’s newspaper, write a genealogy column for a local paper, plus took on the one-year position of being an opinion columnist for another local paper. I also began this blog, keeping it to a manageable one post per week, although I have on occasion thrown in an extra. I have found all these writing projects enjoyable. The more I write, the more I want to write.

So what are the plans for 2015?  We all make resolutions every year and then falter and don’t accomplish them.  I’m not making resolutions this year.    I’m going to set goals and strategies to accomplish my New Years Goals — in my mind that has a more positive ring it than a resolution.  I have not mapped out the specifics or broken it down into manageable segments yet, but the overall goals are going to be weight reduction, organization, cleaning and scheduling to get it all accomplished.  Wish me luck, because I’m probably going to attempt the impossible, once again.

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Filed under events, habit, home, Life is a Melting Pot, Photography

Power of Emotion

This past weekend I underwent a task that was both emotionally satisfying and upsetting.  As I experienced emotional swings I wondered what it is that causes people to experience different emotions for similar activities, or why one person will ride a roller coaster of emotion over the course of time related to only one activity.  What is it that caused me to swing from happy to crying in a split second just by reviewing the photos that were the subject of my project.  Emotion can break people down or build you up.  With me it does both.  There was emotional satisfaction in creating a Shutterfly book of a grandaughter torn from our family by CPS.  My husband and I were stripped our of our relationship with her by DHS and the adoption agency who refused to allow us contact during the time she was in foster care and even after parental rights were terminated and we applied to adopt.  That lack of contact was then used against us in the adoption process and the foster care parents were awarded the consent to adopt rather than us.    There were times when the process of creating the book was emotionally upsetting.  It is hard to understand the process and reasoning of destroying a family when there are biological relatives willing to take in a child and raise her as their own.

Emotions can tear you apart or they can heal.  The emotions that accompany the experience of losing Kae-Lee to another family have resulted in an emotional determination.  There are weak moments, such as during the creation of my photo book, but overall they have left me determined to do something to right a wrong that is done to families all across the country or at least let people know what is happening, that everyone is at risk.  That is the reason I have begun writing a book about our family’s experience in dealing with CPS, DHS and adoption.  Writing is a healing process. It gives me focus.  It allows me to analyze all that happened, to understand where the biological parents failed and where the system failed.  Neither is perfect.  However, the destruction of a family, the ripping of a child from its biological family and giving it to strangers rather than relatives is something I find extremely disturbing and difficult to accept.  Writing is my way of fighting back.  I want people to know what happened to us and that similar situations are happening to families throughout this country.  It isn’t right.  It isn’t fair.    That is how I deal with the emotional trauma of this situation.  Writing about what happened gives me focus and provides satisfaction in knowing that I have not sat back and let the situation swallow me emotionally.  I am stronger than that.

The Shutterfly book is an assortment of what little photographs we have of Kae-Lee from the time she was born in March 2010 through the termination in June 2012, and a few photos we were lucky to obtain taken by others in the year since the termination.  There will be no more.  We have no contact with the foster care family that adopted her.    When you are looking at photographs of a beautiful baby with her family and remember how she was torn from your life, it is an emotional roller coaster.  That Shutterfly book of photographs is the only thing we have left of her, plus the traditional newborn memorabilia that every parent saves and the yearly Christmas ornaments we have purchased for her.  Maybe someday she will come looking for her biological family and we can be reunited with her and share those items.

If you would like to view the book of photographs I created you can click this link:  Shutterfly Book.  I welcome everyone’s comments on this blog and/or the book.

 

0145 - Patrick and Kae-Lee-1

Patrick on Kae-Lee

Kae-Lee photo(20)

Kae-Lee – photo taken by foster care worker

Patrick and his girls - Kiley, Katlyn, Kae-Lee

Patrick and his girls – Kiley, Katlyn, Kae-Lee

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Filed under Family, Life is a Melting Pot, Scrapbooking, Uncategorized, Writing

MY CRAZY WEEK

0801 Bathroom Shots 2014-1

This has been a whirlwind week with meetings on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings for three different groups I am involved with.  While at first glance the three activities appear to be different, in my life they inner-mix and blend so that each has a connection with the other.  If this happens in my life, it most likely occurs in the lives of everyone. 

 The family history group’s main focus is genealogy.  I am a member of the board and also newsletter editor of Blue Water Family Backgrounds.   As newsletter editor I spend time reading old articles and books for inclusion in the newsletter or as research for articles I am writing.  I also take photographs of historical sites and activities the club does for the newsletter.  My involvement in the club is what led to me writing the column Who Am I? for The Lakeshore Guardian.  The column provides readers information on doing family research. 

In addition to the writing the genealogy column and serving as newsletter editor for the history group, I am working on a book regarding my family’s involvement with Child Protective Services, foster care and my husband’s and my attempt to adopt our granddaughters.  This is an ongoing battle which has not yet ended.  I am learning the battles we have encountered are a huge and common problem across the country.  As a result of my writing activities I began attending a Freelance Writer’s Group.  The Freelance Writer’s Group is the reason I began this blog.  I learned that writers/authors typically have blogs so readers can get to know them and their writing style.  Each blog I write is accompanied by a photograph taken by either me or my husband, another interest and activity.

My husband and I have a photography business, Times Gone By Photography and are members of the Blue Water Shutterbug Club.    We take photographs of nature, events, and travel and have them available for sale at local art studios and on Fine Art America.  We photograph art shows and opening events for Studio 1219 in Port Huron, Michigan for which I write a promotional clip that we post with our photographs on the Studio’s Facebook page.  Our photographs have also appeared in an annual vacation magazine for the Blue Water area and a photo taken by me is currently on the cover of the local yellow pages phone book.   Photography also is important to my scrapbooking hobby. 

Scrapbooking ties in with genealogy.  I have a scrapbook of historical family photos and scrapbooking itself involves the recording of family events for future generations.   In addition to that I do an annual Christmas newsletter for family and friends and have saved copies of each for close to thirty years, a written history of our family and our children’s lives growing up. 

All of these interests — family history, freelance writing, and photography tie together in a unique blend, mixing together and supporting each other in my life.  Just as my lifestyle is a melting pot of various activities that swirl and blend together, yours most likely is as well.  When life seems to be a jumbled mess of meetings, activities, and work take a look at what you are doing and how they inner relate to each other.   Stir up the blend and enjoy the results, because after all, Life is a Melting Pot.

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Filed under Family, genealogy, Life is a Melting Pot, Photography, Scrapbooking, Uncategorized, Writing

LIFE IS A MELTING POT

I recently attended my first meeting of a Freelance Writers Group during which I learned that it is important for writers, especially those who write or plan to write books, to have a blog.  Anyone who knows me will tell you that when it comes to putting words on paper I do not have a problem.  However, the idea of writing a blog  was almost overwhelming.

When I see blogs they are generally topic specific.  Each posting is always on one general subject, but what should I write about?  I am a writer, newsletter editor, and am working on a book.  My husband and I have our own photography business, Times Gone By Photography, and spend a lot of time out shooting pictures.  I am a scrapbooker, enjoy reading, attend a wide variety of local events, enjoy traveling when I can, work full time in a law office, and am a mother and grandmother.  Which of those subjects should I choose?  That was my dilemma.

My life is a melting pot of various activities. Everyone’s life is a melting pot.  That is how I developed the theme, or title of my blog.  This blog is about  life and will cover all the various aspects of it.   The good, bad, serious, and funny.    Hopefully everyone finds something they can relate to in each post, because after all, Life Is a Melting Pot.

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