Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Magic of Christmas

Last year, a friend of mine took the most beautiful photos of our family around Christmastime. I made this layout and never got around to posting it.

Photos by Lissa Chandler Photography

Monday, December 2, 2013

November Scraps

Here are a few pages I did this past month. Surprisingly, they are all using photos from this year!The one below is using photos from Easter. Trying to take family photos with the tripod is always interesting!
This one is from October. Trotwood has really started enjoying playing with chalk outside.
And this one is from September. I can't tell you how many photos I have of this kid just running around in his underwear.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Christmas Publication

I've got two layouts in the most recent edition of Creating Keepsakes. Sadly, this is their very last print version of the Creating Keepsakes magazine. The magazine has always been one of my favorite scrapbooking magazine and it's been around since the late 90s. It's so sad to see it disappear.

You can find my Christmas Cookies layout on page 19. 
 And my Family Photo Fail layout on page 32.

All of these photos are from 2011. Can't believe how big Trotwood has gotten since then.

Friday, November 15, 2013


Last week, Mr. Rochester, Trotwood and I took a long weekend off and drove up to Chicago! Mr. Rochester had a conference to attend so Trotwood and I decided to tag along since we'd never been to Chicago before. And, let's be honest, it sounded exciting. The drive lasted about 10 hours and that wasn't so...exciting. However, on our drive to Chicago, we happened to pass through Springfield, IL, where the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum are located. As soon as Mr. Rochester spied the sign for the museum, his eyes lit up and he said excitedly, "Let's go!" Spontaneity won over and we took a slight detour in our trip. It was definitely worth the detour though. I'd never been to a presidential museum before and this one was quite impressive.

Mr. Rochester feeling in his element at the museum (in my opinion). He totally should have been Abe Lincoln for Halloween.
After visiting the museum, we drove the three remaining hours or so to Chicago where we arrived at the "H" hotel, as Trotwood called it. We stayed at the Cass Hotel downtown which is really a Holiday Inn Express hence the big "H" on the sign.

Because of our little spontaneous excursion, we arrived in downtown Chicago in the middle of rush hour. To be honest, I was a bit terrified of all the traffic and how people were driving. We were downtown, in a big city with only our iPhone GPS to guide us to our hotel. Thankfully, Mr. Rochester was driving and he did great despite us both being a bit stressed out about the Chicago traffic. Our experience driving in Chicago traffic convinced us that we really just wanted to keep our car parked while we were there and take the public transpiration. Of course, that was more than okay with Trotwood because he got to ride a "train".

The day before Mr. Rochester's conference we all got to spend the day together and on this day we decided to go as a family to visit Chicago's Field Museum. We spent practically the entire day at the museum looking at different exhibits. Among other things, this museum boasts the most complete T-Rex skeleton ever found and her name is "Sue." Trotwood had fun running all over the place and doing the hands-on activities at the museum. He also just loved looking at all the exhibits. When asked later about what his favorite part of the museum was he said the glowing bugs exhibit. This was a really neat exhibit called Creatures of Light: Nature's Luminescence.We really enjoyed the museum and I'd recommend it to anyone.

Of course while in Chicago, we had to try foods Chicago is famous for - Chicago hot dogs and Chicago deep dish pizza, and we also threw in some macaroons for fun.

The day of Mr. Rochester's conference, Trotwood and I visited the Chicago Children's Museum and the Navy Pier. The Children's museum is amazing! Trotwood couldn't get enough of it. He got to play with clay to to make a sculpture, work with real tools in a workshop, pretend to be a firefighter, build objects with rivets and screws, climb on all sorts of toys, and more!

It was the end of the day and we were waiting for Mr. Rochester to finish up at his conference and Trotwood said he wanted to ride the ferris wheel at the Navy Pier. It wasn't very expensive for the two of us to ride so we decided to ride the ferris wheel. After we got in our seat and we start to rise in the air, Trotwood got a little scared. A few minutes passed and he soon got over his fears and loved the idea that we were going up high in the air. Later, he said riding the ferris wheel ride was his favorite part about that day.
I thought Chicago was a beautiful city and we're so glad we got the opportunity to visit for a few days!

Sunday, November 3, 2013


Eric Whitacre is a genius. If you've never listened to any of the choral works by Eric Whitacre performed by the BYU University Singers (or even anyone else), listen to them now. A whole album of the BYU Singers singing Eric Whitacre works is on Spotify. His compositions cannot accurately be described as beautiful or music. They are moving and transcendent pieces of art. This is one of the most touching pieces I have ever heard. The entire text of the piece is one single sentence from the King James Bible - II Samuel, 18:33:

When David heard that Absalom was slain he went up into his chamber over the gate and wept, my son, my son, O Absalom my son, would God I had died for thee! 

Rarely have I been moved to tears from listening to music. This would be one of those few times. Below is just music, no video. I know it's long but it is worth it. Just listen. Your life will change.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

This is Halloween

Photos of Trotwood from last year's Halloween. We rode around in his wagon for the few houses we visited. He didn't last very long last year because all he wanted to do was run inside people's houses. It sure was fun to see him get all dressed up though.

This year, he was a skeleton and REALLY enjoyed talking to people on their doorsteps and getting candy. After we went trick-or-treating, we came home, watched Hocus Pocus and passed out candy. Before he went to bed, I asked him what his favorite part of Halloween was and he said "Giving out candy." I was surprised to hear that his favorite part wasn't getting candy for himself but passing it out to others. Whenever the doorbell rang, he would immediately stop what he was doing (which usually involved digging through his own candy bag), jump off the couch and run to open the door.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Spooky Spiders

These are some photos from last year when my mom and I took Trotwood to "Boo at the Zoo."

Monday, October 21, 2013

Homemade Rockets

Last week my sister-in-law pointed out that it's been almost a month since I posted on my blog. Life just gets so busy but I'm going to try to remember to post more. Trotwood is currently attending preschool on the University campus and this morning, his class was going to shoot of homemade rockets they'd made out of cardboard and water bottles.

Here is Trotwood with his "rocket." At his preschool, the teachers don't "make" the kids make a project if they don't want. Trotwood's creativity led him to create a rocket sans bottle. So, it's basically a piece of construction paper with tape on it. C'est la vie. I think he just enjoyed being a part of something and creating something, even if it wasn't a true rocket.

The kids all really seemed to enjoy watching the experiment (although I'm not sure we got one rocket ship off of the ground). They loved seeing the bubbling effect that happens when you combine baking soda and vinegar. I think next time, they should use diet coke and mentos. That would really be exciting.

I love that Trotwood goes to preschool on campus now and I can pop over and say hello to him on my lunch break.

Thursday, September 19, 2013


I was feeling contemplative and this was the result. My contribution to the digimorph at Pixels & Company:

Friday, September 6, 2013

Sans Paper Scissors

My digital scrapbooking class is now available at Scrapaneers.com! It's called Sans Paper Scissors
and I'm really excited to have this opportunity to teach a beginning digital scrapbooking class. If you've never digital scrapbooked and are interested in learning, this is the class for you!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Finding frames

I bought new frames last March. For some reason, buying new glasses is super hard for me...and then I find several frames I like but can only choose one. Here were a few of the finalists. It was fun to have an iPhone along so I could take the photos home and get feedback from Mr. Rochester.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

A trip to St. Louis

For the last few months, I've been planning a surprise trip to St. Louis for Mr . Rochester to see the Dodgers play the Cardinals. The Dodgers are his favorite baseball team and he hasn't seem them play in years. Last spring sometime, I noticed that the Dodgers would be somewhat near us and went ahead and bought tickets. Surprisingly enough, I was able to keep this a secret until the day of the game last Thursday (I am a terrible liar). Mr. Rochester knew we were going on a trip because I told a little white lie and said I had a work conference in Kansas City. I didn't want to tell him the conference was in St. Louis because I knew he'd immediately check the schedule to see if the Dodgers were going to be in town while we were there. I arranged for my mom to keep our son for us while we were gone and even convinced my husband to let me drive the morning we left. We left really early and he slept in the car until we were about two hours outside of St. Louis. When he woke up, I asked him to check my conference itinerary (which didn't exist, of course) that was in a manilla envelope. He pulled out the paper in the envelope and it was a printout of our Dodger tickets. He was so surprised!

We really enjoyed our trip to St. Louis. The Dodgers won, we toured some caves, ate some BBQ, met up with friends, visited the Gateway Arch, played at Six Flags, and visited the St. Louis temple.While at Six Flags, I learned a few things about myself:
  1. I used to absolutely love riding roller coasters and my mind still thinks it likes them but my body disagrees.
  2. I no longer feel the need to ride every single ride at an amusement park.
  3. Six Flags food sounds better than it tastes and my body agrees.
On the advice of a response to my recent internet plea for help and advice regarding the loss of our two girls, while we were in St. Louis, we met with a maternal fetal specialist who works for Washington University in St. Louis. She was absolutely amazing. Mr. Rochester and I arrived to our appointment with little hope and we left feeling slightly encouraged. Instead of asking us to relate our case to her, she'd already been studying our medical records in the days leading up to our appointment and she told us our story and just asked for clarifying questions. It was refreshing. Although she couldn't offer us any solid answers, she did state that Mr. Rochester and I should both be tested for NAIT to see if we have any sort of mismatch with our antigens. So, we're back to this again and just waiting on my insurance to hopefully approve testing for both of us.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

PL: Week 13

Here is our week 13. Perhaps I should skip ahead and start doing more current weeks.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Wednesday, July 3, 2013


Since communicating via email with some of the people who responded to my plea on the internet, I started speaking again with the medical professionals we've been working with here and we discovered I was never tested for any sort of blood disorders. So, we've put in the paperwork with my insurance to get approval to do a thrombophilia panel which will test for several different blood disorders. It may take awhile to hear back from the insurance company because they need to review my case for "medical necessity." I know this may sound strange but I actually hope I have some random blood disorder. At least one that could be treated, right? Then, perhaps this would provide an answer to our situation...perhaps not though. And yet, I continue to remain hopeful.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

PL: Week 11

Here's our Week 11 (March 11-17) I may never catch up...

Monday, July 1, 2013

Thank you

Thank you to everyone who has commented, sent me an email, a message on facebook, or just spread the word about our case. Putting this request out on the internet was something I was very nervous about. It's my life. My private life. The unexplained loss of our girls is something so near and dear to my heart and by posting this on the internet, I felt like I was shouting my innermost thoughts and feelings to anyone and everyone. But that's who I needed to hear - anyone and everyone. And thank you for responding and for passing the word on to friends of friends of friends. Please continue to spread the word. We've gotten several emails from people with referrals to other physicians/geneticists and also learned of new ways we can get the word out to a larger audience about our case. We plan to pursue all of our leads until we have an answer or learn there really REALLY isn't one to our case. Thank you, again. I was so touched by the love expressed for us from family, friends, long lost friends, acquaintances, and even complete strangers. My heart is warm. Humanity is good. And I am hopeful.

Friday, June 28, 2013

A plea

It's been almost a year and a half now since our last child was born and died. Since then, we have been looking for answers. We've met with various medical professionals, undergone different genetic tests and we are now at a dead end. My last blood test result for platelet antibodies relating to NAIT was negative and the geneticist and maternal-fetal specialists we've been working with do not know where to go from here. I keep asking questions about what else can be done to help us find answers but feel like I am grasping at straws. Every test we have taken has come out negative or shows that our daughters should have been born healthy, but I still feel like there must be something wrong since our two girls' cases are so similar, in my opinion.

Briefly, our oldest (2008) and youngest child (2012), both girls, were born via emergency C-section at 37.5 weeks due to a lack of fetal movement and decreased fetal heart rate. Our first daughter had confirmed intracranial hemorrhaging, low blood platelet counts, and she lived for two days. Our second daughter had very low blood platelet counts with no confirmed intracranial hemorrhaging although a biophysical ultrasound performed just before she was born showed a large, dark spot in her head (which could have been intracranial hemorrhaging). She only lived for an hour. Autopsies of both girls were inconclusive. We have had a healthy boy in between both girls. My husband and I have both undergone microarray and mass carrier screening genetic testing. I have also been tested for NAIT antigens and antibodies. All test have come back negative. In this day and age of technology and medicine, it is difficult to believe that we have had two baby girls born who have died shortly after birth with no answer or diagnosis to the cause of their deaths. Somewhere, there has got to be someone that has experienced what we have experienced and found an answer.

The unexplained loss of two full-term babies is heart-wrenching. We love our girls and speak of them daily wondering what they would be like if they were alive and with us today and how they would get along with their brother. My husband and I want to have more children and feel like our son needs a live sibling. We are looking into adoption yet I still want to find some medical answers for peace of mind and in case whatever happened to our daughters may someday affect my son and any future family he may have. One of the most difficult things about dealing with the deaths of our daughters is that I have no way of knowing if this will happen again or how we can prevent it if we decide to have another baby. The birth and death of our baby girl in January 2012 was a shock to us because our son had been born healthy in between our girls.

So, here I am making a plea. I am asking you who have friends and families that have children, you who may be a medical professional or have a family member or friend who is a medical professional, you who may have heard of someone who has experienced or if you have experienced something similar to our situation, please help us. Help us find out why our two daughters died in infancy and how we can prevent this from happening again in the future. Even if my husband and I find out that we shouldn't have any more biological children, at least we would have an answer. Please help us make contact with someone who might be able to help us find some answers. If you have any information or referrals to send our way, please email me at helparia at yahoo dot com. You can also leave me a comment here or send me a facebook message. Thank you for any help in sending us in the right direction.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

PL: Week 10

Here's our Week 10. Finally. It's so fun to see what we do each week. It would be even more fun if I was more caught up!

Monday, June 17, 2013


I'm so excited to announce that I'm joining a team of fabulous women to provide online digital scrapbooking classes at Scrapaneers.com! Instructors will be teaching classes on a myriad of topics related to digital scrapbooking techniques ranging from how to get started (I'll be teaching the basics class) to learning how to achieve certain styles and techniques in your layouts. I'm so excited for the site and can't wait until it opens in the fall! If you're interested in learning more about Scrapaneers or signing up for a class, just click on the banner above!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

PL: Week 9

Wahoo! I'm finally into March! This was our Week 9. It was pretty fun. Click for credits.

Monday, June 3, 2013


I created this layout for the Pixels & Co. June Photo Challenge. Time sure does pass quickly. This photo was taken over five years ago!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

PL: Week 8

Finally finished Week 8! I will catch up!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


These two are hilarious and I just love watching them play together. Their friendship first formed in nursery at church and just grew from there to the extent that they always had to sit next to one another in nursery. One night Trotwood lay out blankets and pillows to make up a bed for his best friend so she could come and spend the night at our house. Now, where he got this idea from, I do not know but it was adorable. Click for credits.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Down by the river

More photos from a visit to a park by a river many months ago. Click for credits.

Playing Santa

Christmas layouts in May? Right. What I should be doing is trying to catch up on my project life pages. Eek. I'm still in Week 8. These photos are from Christmas 2011 when I was pregnant with our second daughter whom we have nicknamed Betsey on this site. Click for credits.

Monday, May 27, 2013


Yes, these are older photos - I can't believe how much my child has grown in just a few short years! We took Trotwood to his first baseball game in June 2011. I remember it being a super hot day and wishing that I had worn shorts instead of jeans. The weather cooled off a bit after the sun went down. We had a great time watching the game and just visiting with friends. Click for credits.

Friday, May 3, 2013

P&Co iNSD Blog Hop

Happy interNational Scrapbooking Day (iNSD)! In honor of iNSD, I want to share a few of my favorite digital kits (featured above) with you, all available at Pixels & Co., of course! All of the designers at Pixels & Co. have mad skills and it was not easy for me to choose just four of my favorite kits to share today! I love every.single.one. of Karla Dudley's kits, and I chose Sidewalk Alphas because of the fun stamped look the alphas have (bottom left of above graphic). Celeste Knight's Basic Bright Journalers (top left) are awesome for Project Life or any other pages for that matter. Deena Rutter has several amazing digital collections that are just perfect for layouts of busy, little boys (like mine) and her Scoot Collection (bottom right) is one of my absolute favorites. And Robyn Meierotto, *sigh* what can I say about Robyn's collections except they are all beautiful and Lemonade Stand Papers (top right) are just one of my favorite collections she's created. 

And now for more good stuff! To celebrate iNSD, Pixels & Co is giving away some amazing prizes and this gorgeous kit entitled More or Less!
Check out the Pixels & Co. blog to read about some of the awesome prizes, how to get the coupon for the kit, and how to join in on all of our online iNSD festivities!

And if prizes and free stuff aren't enough, how about some more free stuff? The Pixels & Co. Creative Team members used the More or Less kit to create over 50 journaling cards that you can also download for free! All you have to do is visit each CT member blog and pick up the letter to create the coupon code that will give you the cards for free!

My letter for the coupon code is:

Make sure to follow this order so your coupon code gets spelled out properly! After collecting the different letters from each blog, go to the Pixels and Company shop to use your coupon code and check out with your FREE journal cards! Your next stop on the blog hop is Jennifer Evangelista's blog

Sarah Hemmert  
Katherine Hansen 
Mandi Buchanan
Kate Christensen 

Rachel Alles
Anna Drozd
Jan Fortier
Carey Bridges
Emilie Stevenson
Ronnie Crowley
Amy Kingsford
Jennifer Hignite.
Celeste Smith
Melanie Ritchie.
Aria Andrus ← You are here!

Jennifer Evangelista  
Linda Roos
Christy Carlson
Barbara Unzen
Mary Rogers
Arielle Gordon
Jeryn Carlisi
Indah Permenta Sari
Melanie Call
Jen Papadimitriou
Erin Taylor  
Kelly Mobley
Kim Hammond
Wendy Bretz

If you get lost in the blog hop, the full list of everyone on the hop is above. Happy blog hopping and happy iNSD!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Woo Pig Sooie

Mr. Rochester took Trotwood to his first Razorback football game last November. We were fortunate enough to receive free tickets for them - someone just gave the tickets to Mr. Rochester's mom. They had a great time!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Welcome to Coolsville

These photos are from last September. Trotwood had (and still has) a habit of putting his sunglasses on upside down whenever he wears them. I thought it was hilarious when he got on his "ride"with his sunglasses on and a ball cap. The only thing that makes this funnier is when his ball cap is on askew. Credits.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Music to my ears

I have been wanting to use this Mark Twain quote in layout ever since I read "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court" a few years ago. He perfectly describes how I feel about the little words that Trotwood makes up to describe the world around him. Creating this layout has taken me a long time because there were so many things he said that I wanted to include. In fact, for the last week, Mr. Rochester has glanced over my shoulder and said on more than one occasion, "Still working on that one?" To which my reply was always, "I'm almost done..." Although I am sure I am leaving out some of Trotwood's special words, these are some of our favorite and most memorable. I really do like how the layout turned out. To create this layout, I mostly used the P&Co. April Company Stash.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

We took some photos

We all looked so nice for church on Easter, I wanted to take some pictures. Trotwood is not the most cooperative subject when it comes to photos and we were all tired by the time we got home from church. The photo below pretty much expresses our feelings about taking pictures. (Also, by this time we'd already tried taking photos outside but the sun was uncooperative and we didn't have any decent shade around our house.)

Despite my expression, I was determined to have a few. So we set up the tripod and here's what we got.
I'm not sure what was going on with my bangs in these photos but...oh well, we took some photos.

Sweet boy

Last night I participated in the Pixels & Co speed scrap and this is what I made. Speed scraps are always a fun challenge for me because I am definitely not a speedy scrapper. Click for credits.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Just us photos

I recently offered up my family as test subjects when Lissa Chandler Photography put out a casting call for couples. She did an amazing job capturing us just being our nerdy selves. I adore so much about these photos mainly because they are just so...us. (You may notice our son does not make an appearance in the photos. We still adore him. He was rather uncooperative and a bit...*ahem* dirty that day from digging in the backyard. Also, the casting call was for couples.) See more photos from the session at Lissa Chandler's website.