Thursday, December 31, 2015
This past Tuesday night Luke ranked up in Civil Air Patrol. We weren't sure he was going to make it. He had passed the physical fitness portion and the test, but had to improve his marks on drill. I am thankful that something is difficult for him. He does really well with his grades being naturally smart so it's nice when he has to work at something a bit. Means more to him I think.
The day he participated in the Twin Tiers Honor Flight was also difficult. He had to be at the airport at 5:30 am and in blues so it was quite an early start! Then he rode to Ithaca with CAP for training that ran well into the afternoon. Came home for a snack and shower and was back to the airport to welcome the Veterans back in from their day trip to Washington DC. The entire day made me think of my Grandpa Ham who flew in WWII. I wish he had been around to see Luke & go to DC.
My favorite part of this page are the leaves with the stars. Some left over glitter from the CAP Christmas party found it's way onto their leaves! Dig those roses too. I fussy cut that plane logo after snagging it on-line and printing it on photo paper. Makes me happy for a title!
I know that scallopy shape of the actual page isn't trendy anymore, but it reminded me on a medal and I thought it worked well with the red, white and blue. Inked up edges the edges and added some glitter!
Wednesday, December 30, 2015
My Dad wrote this story a bit ago for a Peace Corps Publication...they couldn't publish the whole thing, but since this is my blog and my birthday, I have free rein!
The Birth of a Daughter
by Bruce H. Mero
Gretchen knew she was pregnant in April, she just knew it. Upon a visit to our physician friend, Dr. Davodi in early May, it was confirmed.
We had been Peace Corps Volunteers in Kerman for a little over eight months. We liked our jobs. Our co-workers had adjusted to our presence in the office and tolerated our broken Farsi. We'd made friends in Kerman, had moved into a great house and were comfortable . Both of us now feared that Peace Corps would ask us to leave because of the pregnancy.
We made the 24-hour bus trip to Tehran in June, detouring for two nights in Yazd. Gretchen met with a doctor at Armish-Mag Hospital, who reconfirmed that she was going to have a baby. He estimated that she was between eight and ten weeks pregnant, calculating that the baby would arrive in mid to late-December. We were giddy with the news, but apprehensive that we might be leaving Iran because of it. After lunch, where we discussed our possible options, we walked to the Peace Corps office to pass along the news to Warren Sawyer, our Director.
We were prepared for the worse, but Warren was delighted. He gave Gretchen a bear hug, then shook my hand and slapped me on the back. He couldn't be happier for us, he said and couldn't wait to tell his wife, Joan.
By the end of the afternoon, everyone in the office had heard the news and seemed to share the excitement. Also, arrangements had been made for us to fly from Kerman to Tehran and back for periodic check-ups at Armish-Mag, meaning no more torturous bus rides for the duration of Gretchen's pregnancy. Warren insisted that we stay with he and Joan each time we came to Tehran for the check-ups.
A couple of days later we arrived back in Kerman. It was the one-year anniversary of our wedding.
The journal Gretchen kept at the time documented a fairly normal pregnancy. Morning sickness, mood shifts and the desire for odd foods. We had pregnancy and parenting advice from our friends in Kerman, but found our best council to be an English lady who lived there, Kaye Morehead. Over multiple teas and biscuits, Kaye related her experience with her kids. Kaye helped us to feel totally comfortable with the things that we would experience. She gave us a copy of a book about baby and child care by Dr. Benjamin Spock, which we each read cover to cover multiple times. By the time Gretchen delivered, that little book was dog-eared and the front cover was missing. Someone gave us a new copy after we returned to the States.
We flew to Tehran every six weeks or so for Gretchen's check-ups. We stayed with the Sawyers on a couple of these occasions. It was near the Sawyer's house that we discovered a sweet's shop, where Gretchen was introduced to and subsequently developed a pregnancy- induced craving for Marzipan. She still loves the stuff.
Returning to Kerman by Iran Air one time, a dust storm was sweeping over the town and obliterating the Kerman Airport. For some reason the cockpit microphone had been left on. We heard a pilot's voice, in a deep, Texas-drawl uttering profanities about not seeing the danged runway. His verbal consternation was followed by a sharp bank of the airplane and powered decent to the runway as the dust cloud opened; the tarmac had been spotted briefly and the pilot made a dive for it.
By mid-pregnancy we had made friends with the American editor for the English language version of the Tehran Kahan newspaper, Steve Crawford. Steve offered us a room in his house to use whenever we were in town. He lived in a spacious, second floor apartment over what was, we eventually determined, a brothel. The landlady was nice and the house was convenient to a main street and dozens of carpet shops. We really liked the place, in spite of the seedy occupations of the ladies who lived in the apartment below.
It was during one of her prenatal exams that her obstetrician, Dr. Kazami recommended that we have the baby in Tehran and not Kerman, and that Gretchen not travel within six weeks of her due date. We related this to Warren and it was arranged that we move to Tehran for a couple of months. I would temporarily fill an engineering position at The State of Tehran Engineering Office, Gretchen would work there when she was able. It was also the recommendation of Dr. Kazami that he deliver the baby at Tehran General Hospital, since staffing at Armish-Mag for childbirth was limited. Peace Corps agreed.
We moved to Tehran and into Steve's above-the-brothel apartment in mid-November. A week or so later we were invited to Thanksgiving dinner at the home of the U.S. Ambassador to Iran, Richard Helms.
Early in the prenatal visit cycle, we told Dr. Kazami that we were inclined toward a natural childbirth. He enthusiastically endorsed this idea and set us up with classes taught by his American wife at Armish-Mag to prepare us for the birth. The closer we got to Gretchen's due date, the more Dr. Kazami became concerned that the birth might interrupt his plans for a New Year's party. About a week before delivery, Dr. Kazami informed us that the baby had dropped and could come any day. He told Gretchen to drink a glass of Cod Liver Oil and then take a warm bath. He was hoping to bring the birth along faster. Rather than that, the baby floated higher in her belly during the bath and stayed there. Gretchen subsequently belched Cod-fishy burps for three days. Failing the lubrication ploy, Dr. Kazami now recommended that the baby be induced prior to New Year's Eve.
We arrived at Tehran General Hospital at 0800 hours on the 30th of December. Gretchen was given an IV of Pitocin and contractions began shortly thereafter. The Doctor came in every hour or so to check on her and to gauge how much she was dilated. Gretchen was as calm as I'd ever seen her. At the onset of each contraction she repeated the breathing exercises taught to us by Mrs. Kazami.
I was a nervous wreck. My anxiety was heightened each time a second doctor came into the room to examine the girl in the bed next to Gretchen's who was also having a baby. The girl wailed and screamed with each pelvic exam by the physician. We were later told that this caterwauling was to demonstrate to the watching mother-in-law how much discomfort her son had caused the girl by getting her pregnant.
By mid-afternoon, Gretchen's contractions were sufficiently close that Dr. Kazami had her taken to the delivery room. Since I was to accompany her, a nurse brought in a pair of green scrubs for me to wear. I found, however, the waist band on the pants so large that I needed to hold them up with one hand, lest they drop to the floor, which they did whenever I lost hold of the waistband.
I learned only moments before Gretchen that our baby was a little girl. I'd watched her birth. We'd decided her name would be Mitra, after a friend from Kerman. She weighed 3 kilograms, 300 grams and was 50 Centimeters in length. The nurse laid the baby on Gretchen's chest for a few minutes before taking her to the nursery. Gretchen was wheeled to her room. Mom and baby were reunited less than an hour later. Gretchen had given the nurses a package of
American-style cloth diapers and pins that my mother and sister had
mailed to us earlier, to put on our new daughter. No one there knew just how
they were supposed to work. A nurse asked that one of us go down to the nursery
and put them on the baby ourselves. Gretchen followed her to the nursery,
anxious to touch her daughter again and to put on the first diaper. She spent as many minutes there as the
attendants would allow. I stayed behind in the room and listened to the girl in
the next bed demonstrate her continued agony for her husband's mother.
Gretchen and Mitra were three days in Tehran General Hospital. When she was a week old, we took her to Armish-Mag for a well-baby examination and she was declared 100% healthy. Gretchen's journal notes that Mitra crapped all over the examination table just before the physician arrived and needed a diaper change before the doctor would see her.
We flew back to Kerman on the 8th of January. We had non-stop visitors at our house on Zariff Street for the first few weeks. Friends and even curious strangers rang our doorbell, hoping to see our new baby. We were quite the novelty. The tea kettle never cooled. Journal entries document only one day in the next fourteen without visitors. Everyone arriving at our door brought gifts: flowers, fruit, sweets, baby clothes and blankets, gold coins and earrings for the baby. More American-styled diapers arrived. Steve from Tehran somehow sent us a baby crib. More flowers from Warren and Joan. Astonishingly, our friend Mitra (our daughter's namesake) and her husband offered to give us a house. It was nearly overwhelming.
Eventually things settled down and we were able to establish a routine. I was busy at work. Gretchen got to the office when we were able to find someone to watch the baby. Since she was the Ostandar's favorite, staying at home with Mitra was not always an option. One didn't say no when the Ostandar wanted one present.
In early February, flew to Tehran for a well-baby checkup at Armish-Mag. We stayed with Warren and Joan for four days and really got to relax. Gretchen and Joan talked about kids for much of the time.
On our return to Kerman we were dinner guests of a western-educated veterinarian . After dinner, totally out-of-the-blue, our friend proposed a marriage contract between his infant son and Mitra. He offered huge financial incentives, a European education and free university if Mitra would return to Iran after college and marry his son. Somehow we gracefully wiggled out of that conundrum and still remained close with our friend.
When Mitra was five months old, we flew to Tehran and took a train to Mashhad. We stayed there with a Peace Corps couple for a few days, then by bus, went to Afghanistan. We'd planned to be there for several weeks, but the baby got sick, so returned to Iran after a week.
We terminated Peace Corps Iran in August. Mitra was eight months old. After a quick visit back to the States, we went to Managua, Nicaragua and settled into our next Peace Corps adventure.
Tuesday, December 29, 2015
Finally got a few minutes to post my Thanksgiving Layout. It's been done for a couple of weeks now, but I have been busy blogging Christmas stuff, so it never made it on!
I couldn't bare to make a turkey this year for Thanksgiving. Much less stuffing, or green bean casserole. So I didn't. I made bouillabaisse! It was very rich and delicious! Paired up that fun photo THE MAN took for us with some great feather paper and gold letters!
How do you like that feather! It's not a turkey feather, but kinda close. It came from the woods at my parents house. Thought some gold thread and some little velvet petaloo flowers worked well with it.
Such a lovely little gold butterfly, washi tape with French words, and pink staples, a great combo for a Thanksgiving page!
Monday, December 28, 2015
A bit ago the Aunt asked if anyone wanted all of Grandma Skip's photo albums. She has a collection of photo albums that rivals how many scrapbooks I have. The very thought made the lot of us shudder due to the shear volume. With that in mind, THE MAN and I embarked upon our secret squirrel project of 2016 this past weekend. We are working on a photography jig that will allow me to set up my new fancy smancy camera at a set distance from a page and consistently digitize entire scrapbooks. (Yes, Santa brought me a new camera in October!)
There have to be at least thirty scrapbooks stored on the top shelf of my closet or stashed in the cabinet. I want to be able to "play" a scrapbook on a pc or display on the TV. So this is why a scrapbook ended up in the shop so we had examples to work from! While THE MAN measuered and cut high density fiber board I had a stroll down memory lane.
The jig is just dry fitted at the moment. We need to glue, measure, tweak, tweak again, take some photos, and continue to tweak.
Wish us luck! Tomorrow is still a day off from the Christmas Holidays so hopefully we'll make some more progress!
A wave over at Sian, the Original Me on a Monday girl! Have a good week Sian!
Friday, December 25, 2015
Merry merry! Hope your Christmas is full of joy & happiness! We are having a quiet one here, as tomorrow is our big day! Off to see the Grandma & hang with the rents! I just wanted to pop in and show you our second tree that is full of all my Funkie Junkie punch cups. What a great challenge! A huge thanks to Linda for hosting us!
What do you do when your tree is little and you want to make a big impact! Well, put it in a chest of course! In this case it is our blanket box and I just moved the blankets out for the time being. Used a box to give it a little boost! Of course a tall topper also gives it height.
I bought a cheap plastic retro tree topper at the ReStore, cut off the tip, added a washer & epoxy to build a base, sprayed with gold spray paint and then hot glued on a sparkly glass tea pot! Got the glass tea pot at the Corning Museum of Glass during their Black Friday sale...thought a tea pot went well with a tree full of cups!
I had so many little glass teapots to pick from, but went with a pink and gold one. Love it!
One last photo of the other side!
Happiest of Holidays from the Pratt house to yours!
Thursday, December 24, 2015
So since I am making a new set of ornaments this year for the Funkie Junkie challenge and I really wanted to also show case last's year Icicle ornaments, we have two trees. Well, actually three...
Finally put last year's ornaments in a photo college..so pretty! I mean they look awesome on the tree too...
I think though since we live in the Crystal City we should embrace Christmas...I mean the town I live in was voted one of the top 20 Christmas towns in the US so it's probably best to just to go with the when in Rome thing....
I am not great at fake trees or real ones for that matter. This one in particular took me forever...and THE MAN still maintains the blue lightening bolts at the top are nutz. It's possible he is right..It's only the third fake tree I've ever decorated in my life...and the second one was in conjunction...
That snow angel at the top was a project ages that I blogged about when we lived up north...
She is a pretty little thing! I think she likes the blue lightening bolts....
They aren't that bad, are they?
Wednesday, December 23, 2015
I have had so many fun things to do this past month. A highlight was Luke's Civil Air Patrol Christmas party. The ladies who planned it went all out! You could tell from the girls giggling and dudes who were dancing, it was a good time.
I threw the page together the day after the party! It was a snap to pull out the colors we used, gold, red, white and blue...and I happened to save a Civil Air Patrol logo & doily from making the center pieces...
Look at those beautiful faces...such good looking young adults! Used a little piece of water color paper that Luke had made in art class and upcycled a tag from some jeans...
Check out the little air planes and stars that are glued in at the top of the photo. Those were all over the tables! Aren't they cool!
And a shout out to Funkie Junkie for her awesome flowers...picked these up during a Black Friday sale..these are from Petaloo!
Happiest of Hump Days!
Tuesday, December 22, 2015
It's fitting that it snowed today which mean I got a cool photo (pun intended) of the last ornament for the Funkie Junkie challenge and that I used a fussy cut photo of Duncan. He thinks the snow is for eating, snowplowing with his nose, skidding on the driveway and catching snowflakes on his tongue. You'd think he didn't grow up just down the road in Pennsylvania where...they have snow! Musta forgotten from last year to this...
I had to use a photo of Duncan as I still haven't acquired any plaid...and Linda's tag over at the Funkie Junkie was a lot of plaid!
Let me show you one of Duncan's Christmas photos and then Linda's tag...
He is sporting a lovely plaid tie...and thinks quite a lot of the whole get-up....see how it makes sense now?
Linda's tag has gems, dots, and lots of plaid! So you can see it was a slam dunk...(second pun intended!).
I have managed to use snowflakes and metal keys for each ornament. The key on this one got sprayed with adhesive and covered in red glitter to match the red glitter on the inside of Linda's folded tag. I used a shimmery clear piece of holly to match hers.
I also used the word "RELAX" because I imagine Linda is finally feeling all kinds of happy....the twelve tags are done and it's a slide into the holidays at this point! It's also a word I'm saying to Duncan quite often. He gets so excited! I also tell him his middle name is Pestilence...
The good news is that the little tree is FULL of these ornaments...I just have to make the tree topper and I'll show you them all in one place! Fun times!
I'll also show you photo of our Christmas stockings...I happen to know mine has some Funkie Junkie in it and I cannot wait to put it to use! Linda's store The Funkie Junkie Boutique sponsors this challenge so I was quite happy to shop over Black Friday!
Monday, December 21, 2015
The bad news is that Duncan ate a big spool of twirly ribbon. It was a huge roll so there were quite a lot of bits of soggy ribbon and then a whole big clump of ribbon mixed in with the black plastic chunks of the actual roll. Since twirly ribbon is most useful directly before Christmas, I was mostly thankful I was nearly done wrapping and could resort to using twine. He was being a terror due to the unjustness of being put out of the bedroom at one point so he might have a smidge of a vindictive side as it may...I have told him that Santa Paws may not deliver any presents, but he is unrepentant...
Made more cards this weekend, boxed up some things for sending..it was a wrap up kind of weekend...including real wrapping! The cards were of the simple variety, as in lots of washi tape and also some chunks of white cardstock that were precut and I just added a fold. Pretty proud of that punched star in the corner with that gem...
It was also a get the house ready for a holiday weekend...both trees are completely finished and the shoe caddy came back in the house after spray painting. I had planned big exciting things for the shoe caddy, but turns out just some simple white spray paint allows it to fade into the woodwork and just be useful...
And what is that little do-ma-hicker on the top? Why my new Cricket container! You can see I have utilized the same washi tape I used on the Christmas cards to also mask off the handle...THE MAN knew I was needing a new container to hold the crickets for the lizard and made me one...as I write this I realize that it sounds like a menagerie around here...
Chirp chirp, happy crickets and Happy Monday!
Friday, December 18, 2015
Sometimes I worry that things won't stay together. I stalk the adhesive aisle in most hardware stores for that very reason and I'm susceptible to words like "gorilla" when the word glue is after them. I can honestly say though, nothing really beats hardware for holding things together. In this case, rivets just added to the overall look and I got REALLY GOOD at using the rivet gun.
In fact, I'm so fond of the rivet gun, I am hinting heavily that one get placed in my stocking by Santa. Check them out! Aren't they pretty! Held those vintage hinges and that door plate right in place, not to mention the three canvases together. Just had to drill some pilot holes..after getting the placement just right!
My Aunt was going through some of my Grandma Skip's stuff and passed along these three canvases painted by my Gram Skip...or J.Mero as she signed them. I was careful to keep the overall paintings mostly untouched except for a few splatters. I added some washi tape, gold paint, and white splots here and there. The door plate was a gift from my Dad and I thought it all paired up nicely!
Check out my inspiration:
I got the idea of adding the door plate and putting the canvases together from Helen at Scrap Addict.
I am still trying to find her actual blog post to link up, but here is a photo to hold you over for the time being! Lucky for me I have the original piece on my wall!
Happiest of Friday's!
Wednesday, December 16, 2015
One of my favorite print files that Regina creates over at THE CUTTING CAFE are her circle images. I have used quite a few and was excited when she recently released a few more. The Jingle All The Way one I used on my page can be found in Christmas Sucker Treat Cups and I repurposed it for my page.
I haven't purchased any Christmas paper in ages however I have some layouts to make of recent events, so it really helped make my page Christmassy! Not to mention that there is enough room to journal in the middle.
I love how the circle frames my photos! It was so simple to print out on a sheet of 12 by 12 paper!
Can you see that pretty little photo there at the corner showing the parade banner for Sister Cities? Lexi is in that club in school and really enjoyed the parade! It was her first parade and she passed out candy! Fun times!
Happy Hump Day!
Tuesday, December 15, 2015
I decided to go monochromatic with this cup and add a smidge of mixed media...and by monochromatic I mean I started with purple but then a little bit of blue somehow wandered off from some purple ink in the glitter glue and then there is the silver...so it was more of a thought process..
Anyhow, I digress....let me show you WHY I wanted to stick with one color! Linda over at The Funkie Junkie has that blue that just POPS! Her tag also has quite a bit of texture...
I really liked that crackle paste look so I dragged up some gesso and painted my cup. Wanted a bit of texture too, so wrapped it in a wet paper towel before it dried on the outside.
I liked the translucent look it had as well so I just added a bit of clear spray and glitter to the inside so you could see through it.
I used a snowflake which was the theme of Linda's tag and also I added a gem on the top of the bow for my ornament. I stash busted a bit too since that purple angel has been hanging out in the stuff for years, so long I'm not even quite sure where I acquired it..That dove was something I got at the second hand store and I nested her in some snow with some white beads. I hadn't wanted any other colors besides just purple but the ink ran, which makes it look like snow with a shadow and instead of fighting it...I embraced it and added a little of the same color to the branches.
I'll leave you with one last little close up of the frosted key, the angel ornament, and those lovely flowers that I bought at Linda's. Linda's Shop, The Funkie Junkie is sponsoring this challenge and I treated myself to a shopping spree during black Friday. They are Petaloo Vintage Velvet flowers and I LOVE them!
Monday, December 14, 2015
I do so enjoy the days leading up to Christmas. There is tweaking to the decorations around the house, places to go, people to see. Currently I'm stalking the Christmas section at the ReStore for Vintage glass ornaments. Got a couple of bags for a whole dollar the other day! Since I am STILL working on the large tree, that was pretty awesome! (I have completely embraced the whole Christmas thing and we have three trees...don't ask.)
This past weekend we were off to Civil Air Patrol for the First Annual Christmas Party. I had been asked to make centerpieces for all the tables and I was pleased to see that the basket full I made were enough! By basket I mean laundry basket...had to find something sturdy to use...mason jars aren't lite!
Speaking about lights..They had little battery operated candles, so it really improved the "mood" of the gym we were hanging out in..huge thanks to Lisa over at You Made Me Ink for the idea!
While I was on the red, white, gold and yellow kick...I made some angels for the two ladies who did the majority of the work getting the party organized.
I am really enjoying using up those vintage hankies and those gold pipe cleaners...I have a few more angels to make, but it's a busy week....and I've fallen quite behind on scrapbook pages...so we will see what I get done!
Happiest of Mondays to You and waving hi to Sian over at From High in the Sky, the Me at a Monday girl!
Friday, December 11, 2015
Anyhow, I ran past the bakery as the cakes looked delish, but I couldn't settle on one in particular. I ended up over in the cake mix section. Some lady was studying the cake mixes on her scooter so I waited patiently back a ways. Then I saw her pick up her cane and start viciously whacking the cake mixes. Now I've always wanted to whack things with a cane in a store, but yet again it was Wegmans so I was a bit taken aback.
One mix succumbed to her onslaught, giving up it's place on the shelf and falling to the floor. Then she bent over her scooter and with the cane started to try to pull it towards her. It was at this point I decided to intervene.
Can I get that for you?
She looked up, smiled and asked if I would. Since the scooter was blocking my path to the mix, she then proceeded to back up a little. Since she meant to not back up but go forward, she rammed me with her scooter. It was preciously at this point I was asking myself why I couldn't go into public without a bit of drama.
She pulled forward after apologizing so I scooped in and grabbed the mix, handed it to her, and went back to pondering what to buy.
Then she want back to whacking the mixes.
I decided to intervene again. Turns out the mixes with pudding in them were on sale and the last four chocolate ones were all the way in the back and she wanted all four. I wasn't sure how the whacking would entice them forward so I offered to pull them out for her.
It was like I was pulling calves outta a cow. Who knew the damn shelves were so deep. I was on my knees in my good wool coat pulling out cake mixes as she explained that if I added a banana and an extra egg to the pudding mixes, I would have an amazing banana bread that could be whatever other flavor the cake mix was. There was a lot more to the story, including complaints about great grandchildren who sadly had lives so couldn't visit her enough and a plea that she needed help to put the banana bread cakes in the oven.
I escaped as soon as humanly possible to the dairy section for cream cheese for the frosting and before I offered to go home with her. She appeared mostly harmless and just needing a bit of help, but I had reports to send & cupcakes to bake. The point of the story being though....
I did however have a cupcake while writing this post and picking winners! (and yes, I added a banana and extra egg)
So winner from Day 1 of the Vintage Goodies in a Cigar Box is: Lisa from A Mermaid's Crafts! I see she uses a lot of seam binding so I'm anxious to see what she makes of this stash!
Day 2: Winner of Tiny Dancer Milk Carton that was made from a cutting file from one of the sponsors, THE CUTTING CAFE is: Carol from La Crosse!
And the Grand Prize Winner of Day 3: Catherine Childs Morrison!
Yippe! WOW, that was a lot of fun! Puts me in the mood for another cupcake!
Message me your address if you will. My email address is on the left hand side of my blog there in the middle-ish!