April 18, 2018By Russ


I can’t scrapbook. I’ve tried. I’ve really tried. Seriously, I’ve sat at a table with the intent to create a scrapbook and I’ve given it “a go.” It’s my understanding that the stay at home parent is in charge of managing the family photos and arranging them into fun, memorable, scrapbooks. It’s not enough to just look at a bunch of pictures every now and again….pictures from the picture bin that sits in the “memory stuff box” that we keep in the only available spot in that one closet. No, we need a SCRAPBOOK! And with my wife at work, the burden is on me to creatively capture our life history into lovely 12 x 12 pages. And I suck at it.

But it just so happens that I have the ultimate answer to those of us who suck at the scrapbooking aspect, but want the scrapbooking aspect! HIRE A SCRAPBOOKER!

Through the bizarrely wonderful journey that is my life, I came to know some amazing, hardcore scrapbookers and stampers. One of the first gals I met was a woman named Erika Martin. Super cool gal. And it was serendipity? Fate? Good luck? Something like that…..Gayle and I fell in love with her work, and so we commissioned her to create a scrapbook of the first year of Noble’s life. Here are some of the pages she made! UNREAL! I should apologize for the glare in some of the pictures. I refuse to take the pages out of the protective sheet…plus I think Gayle might kill me if I tried.

The cover to Noble’s book. I can’t even remember him looking like that!! That’s a baby right there!

This is one of my favorites.

There’s Noble’s personality! Incidentally, this will probably also be his smile at age 80 when his teeth fall out…

Another great one. This right here is the reason we had Erika do these for us. Never in my wildest could I put something this artistic together.

Noble’s first birthday. Erika leaves spaces on some pages for us to journal a memory, or write something of our own….but we are too scared that we’ll wreck the page, so we haven’t written in them yet!

We basically sent her our jpg files and told her about some page ideas, and some important details about our lives, and she just ran with it! I also surprised Gayle by having Erika make a book about Alistair’s first year and gave it to her on our 10th anniversary, back in July. MAJOR brownie points achieved. LEVEL UP!

Here are some photos of Alistair’s scrapbook! UNREAL…AGAIN!

Alistair’s book cover. Keep in mind, I just sent her a bunch of pictures…this cover is 100% her creation, and it’s perfect!

One of my favorite Alistair pages.

The great thing is that I can look at this page and all my memories of being with Alistair at Manhattan Beach come flooding back. This is going to be crucial for me as I start “losing it” in my old age. I already can’t remember to close the fridge door….

Erika has fallen on an incredibly difficult situation. I was already planning on writing a post about her awesome work, and now it’s coming at a time when she really needs the word out. If you are somebody that wants to be able to flip through an artistic, beautiful scrapbook of your family, but you can barely cut a straight line, let alone draw much more than a stick figure (like me), then please check Erika out. And you’ll not only be getting something wonderful, but you’ll be doing something wonderful for a fellow parent in need.

If scrapbooks aren’t your thing, she may have something else crafty that you might like! Check out Erika’s etsy shop!

Times like these remind me how fortunate I am. The idea that a friend is out there, possibly about to lose their home, not only saddens me, but it frustrates the hell out of me. If I can help her by posting to you all (I also did a little shopping on her etsy site) then I believe I have a duty to do that. I hope you take the time to read her story and hopefully peruse her wares.

Here is the post Erika sent out the other day, copied with permission.

I hesitated in putting this out, but we’re stuck. As most of your remember, back at the beginning of this year, we were in danger of losing our house to foreclosure due to David losing hours at work. So many of you rallied around us and bought from my Etsy shop and we were so blessed to be able to make a payment that kept us from having our home loan demanded in full. Since then, it’s still been tight, but we’ve been able to get a payment in each month without going past that dreaded “Day 60.” Our loan officer has been very understanding and knows that we’re behind and trying our hardest to get caught up.

Unfortunately, being almost 2 months behind is no longer acceptable to the bank. I just got a call from our loan officer and she has her hands tied. Because town taxes and the yearly pay out of our home owner’s insurance are due September 1st, the bank is requiring us to be completely caught up by August 30th. That’s 10 days away! The bank won’t allow us to pay the differnce to make sure the escrow has enough for the taxes and insurance. They are requiring us to have those 2 payments we’ve been behind in by the 30th of this month. Even if we have just one payment in, the bank will still demand our loan in full. We’re stuck between a rock and a hard place.

As most of you know, David had his regular overtime hours cut last fall two months early. We were looking forward to his regular overtime again this summer because we anticipated that we could get caught up and be back on track. The company he works for hired a slew of temporary workers and gave them all the hours and cut the full-time employees (David and his co-workers) out of their overtime at the end of June – 3 months ahead of time! That regular overtime is something he and his coworkers have had every year except this year. From a business standpoint, I suppose it made sense to his company’s owners, but from an employee’s standpoint, we and the rest of them are all hurting now due to losing that income.

So, here we are, this time with an even bigger obstacle. We have to come up with two month’s worth of mortgage payments in 10 days before the bank calls in our loan and we are put into foreclosure.

Because so many of you came to our rescue back in January, I want you to know that we are not a “spendthrift” family. I run a pretty tight ship financially and we are very minimalistic. In June and a few weeks ago, I made the trip to Florida to both drop off and pick up my daughter for her missions trip. Our expenses were all paid for by the church we go to (gas money, meals), as well as my grandmother (the flights, our meals, rental car, gas in Florida, and any expenses that we needed when I took Girly and her cousin to Wonderworks). At home, we don’t eat out, I shop at the discount food store, we have a garden, we pinch every penny. Most of you that know me personally know that I’m a very frugal person. Unfortunately, we’ve found ourselves in a bind in spite of all of that.

David works as many hours as his work will give him. I’ve picked up hours at my friends’ kennel when they have hours to give me, my tuition for my full-time schooling is completely paid for by grants, and I’ve been setting up at the farmer’s market in town when the weather works in my favor. Some people have asked why I don’t get a job outside the home, but that’s a bit of a catch-22 for us since we have a son with special needs that requires a lot of doctor visits, back and forths to school, and I also help to take care of my elderly grandfather (his appointments, cleaning his house, taking him on errands, helping him with his finances and bills, etc.). Because of this, my schedule has to remain flexible. This is why I try to find ways to make an income in a flexible way – through working hours at odd times, doing the farmer’s market, and also through my Etsy shop and art classes here in my house. When David caps our his hours at work, it’s up to me to make up the difference and it’s a challenge I gladly face head on.

I’m a hard worker and I am also a fierce mama bear that doesn’t want her family to lose the roof over their head. We live in a very modest house and don’t have a lot of “toys,” and we’re content to just have our bills paid, food on the table, and a roof over our head. We’re currently doing without hot water at the moment (since the end of July) because our priority right now is to get current with our mortgage. I applied for a grant for utilities and we should be receiving that in the beginning of September. It will allow us to refill the propane tank (yay for hot water again), put heating oil in the tank for the coming winter, and pay up some of our overdue electric bill. Yay for private grants!!

I have a great Etsy shop and would love to create some custom art for you or as a gift for one of your friends, I also have a lot of other fun things on there. I can do special requests, as well. I am willing to work hard for my family to keep our house. I hesitated even putting this up here because so many of you came to our rescue earlier this year, but I knew that if we lost the house, you would all wonder why I didn’t say something earlier.

So, we’ve got 10 days to come up with those two payments. If you could pass my Etsy link on to your friends (you can even share this post if you’d like to give some of our back story), we would appreciate it so much! And if there’s anything you’d like in my Etsy shop or would like to custom order, please let me know and we can work on it. I’ve got new stuff going up on the Etsy shop all week.

And we always appreciate prayers and positive thoughts. 🙂

Thank you so much for being such amazing friends!


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