A Card and Heartbreak

2 10 2021

My sweet sister-in-law lost her mother this week and I play with paper so I made a card for her. This is the first time in a LONG time that I’ve absolutely fallen in love with a card I’ve made. But let’s be honest, I just don’t have that many chances to sit and make a card anymore. At first, I wondered if I’d forgotten how, because it wasn’t working. I regrouped, tried something different and got this. I did really like the chance to make my son’s wedding invitations, but those weren’t “mine” as much as they were “theirs”. An awesome opportunity, but not in the same way.

So after this gushing, I hope you like it, too.

In a few days, I’ll be starting another, and it will be one of the most meaningful, but also the hardest that I think I’ve ever done. We lost my 25yo cousin this week and she earned her wings before she ever left this earth. I’m not sure how to pull this off, but I feel driven to do so. The world lost a light this week, but it seems a little bit of my cousin’s light was left with every person she ever met.

Anyway, here’s this one, and like I said, I’m so happy with how it turned out.

Thanks for stopping by


That Time I Made a Few Wedding Invitations

26 09 2021

Besides being a mom to some awesome little kids, I’m a mom to some awesome big kids, too ❤️

One of those big kids is getting married next month. It’s a weird place to be. He’s my baby, but he’s not 😔

He was the first little one to call me mom. The first to hold my finger and smile up at me. The first to think I hung the moon.

I really like his soon to be wife. She just fits. So I was very honored to be able to make their invitations. It took some time, there were 150 of them, but every single one of them was made with love and wishes for an amazing future.

I was able to play with wax seals and had an absolute blast coming up with just the right color combinations for the wax.

This is the outside. The band holds everything together and simply slides off to open it.

Once opened, invitations, registry info, rsvp info, and map info can be found inside. And of course, a picture of the sweet couple.

I found the file in the Silhouette design store and cut out the envelope pieces and attached them.

Then I gathered the info, printed it, and cut it out. All of the cutting was done on my Silhouette Cameo. There’s NO way I would have been able to pull this off without that machine. It’s one of the best paper crafting tools I have 😀

Thanks for stopping by!


That Time JJ Had a Panic Attack, but Didn’t

26 09 2021

Last night I had the opportunity to speak with someone about Bandit and all the good he does. We also talked about why he’s “dressed” in his vest and shoes, and why we have a good leash. Besides being really attached to these pups, service dogs are NOT cheap and we come to rely on them. We take MANY precautions to make sure they can do their jobs and not be injured or lost.

I looked at her and then at the new to me car we downsized to last week, and then back before saying, “This pup costs more than the car I drive.”

So why put in all the time and energy for fundraising? We’ve been trying to fundraise through out covid, when things are uncertain and topsy turvy. Why sit back and come up with ideas you *hope* will help bring some donations in? Honestly, it can be very overwhelming, and I’d really hoped to be much further along than this.

But then there’s a day like we had this week. And it reaffirms why, and it motivates me to try harder. Because Bandit reaches my son on a level I can only dream of.

JJ has started hyperventilating when he’s upset. And of course asking him to calm and breathe doesn’t work – it doesn’t work for most people I know.

But I asked him to come sit with me – which he did and that’s HUGE for him, he usually shuts down and shuts us out. We did some of the things we’ve found that *may* help him calm, but it’s very hard to focus and concentrate.

But Bandit, that boy was on it. He came to us (he wasn’t far) and INSISTED on attention, lol. At first JJ wasn’t touching him, but Bandit wasn’t deterred, he kept rubbing up against his boy.

I helped my son reach out and start petting Bandit, start running his hands through the hair on top of Bandit’s head. And when JJ put his hand on Bandit’s neck, Bandit moved so JJ’s hand ended up sliding down and back up Bandit’s back.

Very quickly, JJ was able to calm and start actively regulating himself. Then he pet his dog on his own. Once he calmed, we talked and ironed things out and he was no longer upset.

I don’t think I could have done this without Bandit. I’ve always been on the outside. And when JJ can’t regulate, we go for DAYS of him trying to get back on track. And it’s hard and exhausting for everyone.

THIS is why we do the hard things.

I’m so grateful for Bandit and for finding Paws 4 Autism ❤️

As always, here’s a link to JJ’s fundraising page. Because Paws 4 Autism is a not for profit organization, ALL of the money we raise goes directly back into the organization to help provide dogs for other children who need a buddy like Bandit.

Thanks for stopping by, and look for some fun fundraising ideas coming up 😀


JJ and Bandit ❤️

That Time I Made a Flower Pail Box Card

25 06 2021

One of my favorite things to do is play with paper. I like making it dimensional with color and design. I’m not skilled enough to design something that will be 3D once all the pieces are assembled, so luckily there are places like

SVG Cuts who has some amazing files to play with. I worked with this one, Flower Pail Box Card for this project. If you don’t already know, one of the great things about box cards, is that they fold flat-ish for mailing, then they can be popped open for display, like you see here 🙂 At the tallest point, this card is about 9 inches, and about 3 inches across when open. When folded flat, it’s about 4 inches across the bottom.

The leaves and flowers were cut out of white paper. Then I used markers and pencils to color them. Yes, I could have made this project easier and less time consuming by just cutting them out on colored card stock, but like I said, I like to add dimension through color 🙂

After I cut out and colored everything, I assembled it. I have a nice envelope and I’ll design an address “label”, print it, then cut it out so the card can be sent.

Thanks for stopping by!


That Time I Played With Paper Again ❤️

23 05 2021

If you scroll through my last few years of blog posts, you’ll see they’re mostly dominated by topics like autism and service dogs; by foster care and adoption.

If you go back further, you’ll see paper projects, but it’s been a while.

But I got to play this week – yay!

I made a rose /vase box card. There are things I’m not happy with, but I’m rusty so we’re just going to go with it lol

I used this file from the Silhouette Design Store.

I cut out the pieces on my machine, and because I’m extra, I hand colored them with my markers and colored pencils.

The beginning of the flower buds

The finished flower buds

The leaves and stems still on the paper

I like to color things while they’re still on the cutting mat. I don’t have to be as precise, I don’t loose anything, and I have better control of the paper (small things are hard to hold).

The leaves off the cutting mat. You can see the difference between adding colors to the cardstock and leaving it as is.

The finished card.

I had fun playing with paper and colors again. I hope it happens again sooner rather than later, but there’s a lot of other things to focus on right now, so we’ll see ❤️

Thanks for stopping by!


That Time I Had Some Service Dog Thoughts

16 05 2021

Because we have special and medical needs in my family – like, a LOT of them – we’ve been home the last 14 months. We’ve had lots of things delivered, done lots of carry out, shopped once a week and as quickly as possible. We’ve masked up every time we’ve gone out. We’ve sanitized after leaving places other than home. I carry three different sanitizing options on my purse and we have sanitizing wipes in the car. I say all this so you believe me when I say we were very cautious this last year.

But because of the limited time out, we haven’t had a lot of trips out of the home with Bandit. We’re now at a place that we feel like it’s time to start adding things back in, like therapies, more shopping trips, dinners out, and church. And I’ve noticed a few things that I probably would have noticed sooner, if not for covid. I wanted to share those things with you, to help you incase you have the pleasure of encountering a service dog when you’re out.

  1. The rules, when it comes to service dogs and entering public spaces are pretty simple. Those at the location, may, if they feel the need to, ask only TWO questions; is that a service dog, and what task does the dog perform. That’s it. They’re NOT allowed to ask for a demonstration of the task, or about your medical needs.

Where it’s a little different, the airlines. They have slightly different rules that they just started implementing because the previous rules were being taken advantage of.

Exemptions: Churches are NOT required to follow ADA guidelines and rules. We have to rely on the people there to do the right thing and in Christian churches welcome and minister to the “least of these,” in the way that’s best for that person. Another exemption, people’s homes. They are allowed to deny entry to a service animal because it’s a private space. Other places might need some negotiation, like hospitals. I’ve had service dogs in the hospital with children and it was fine. But realistically, you wouldn’t expect the pup to be in an operating room with their person. Or expect hospital staff to care for a service dog if the owner is incapable. But, it’s very likely a family member can bring the dog to watch over his or her person.

2. The ADA does NOT require service dogs to be identified with vests or paperwork. In fact, the ADA does not even recognize certification papers you can buy online for a service animal – remember, people can only ask two questions, and asking for papers is not one of those questions.

I thought it was interesting that the pups are not required to wear vests marking them as a service animal. That vest is actually a courtesy to those around the dog, letting them know the dog is working. It also seems to really help Bandit know when he’s on and off duty.

And those papers you can buy…not necessary, but you’ve helped someone make some money. However, if you’ve got things going on that you need a service dog, you probably don’t want to spend money on something that not only isn’t necessary, but isn’t even valid and recognized by the ADA.

3. I’ve seen two sides of a coin. The coin itself is the, “that’s so cool! It’s amazing what animals can do,” coin.

I’m watching to see if there’s some kind of pattern, but sometimes, the “coin” is really cool, until it affects someone else. For example: A restaurant owner saying how cool service dogs are, but when it’s their restaurant the handler and dog want to dine in, its suddenly not so cool because they’re now facing something new. They might need to make different accommodations and do things a little differently. The really tired side of me, the mom trying to give my son some independence, really isn’t bothered that someone else might have to put in a little more effort or try something a little different, not when we’ve been doing this for YEARS for everyone else. And still doing it, even with a service dog, the pup just makes things easier. Also, this was a fictional example, not an actual experience, but we have experienced things like this. The other side of the coin, is the people who say how awesome it is, then welcome you in, regardless of the fact that the situation might need a little more work than typical. You can decide which reaction is heads and which is tails 🙂

4. We’ve been asked on more than one occasion if he actually needs the dog for xy or z, because some situations may require more out of the box thinking.

Here are some things to think about;

Service dogs are living, breathing pieces of medical equipment for someone dealing with physical or mental disabilities. In the context of medical equipment, would you ask someone in a wheelchair if they needed it because it was too inconvenient to make space for? Or should you ask someone, like my son, who needs medication to function well, if he needs to take it because you weren’t comfortable with it?

For JJ, Bandit stops panic attacks. Can stop elopement. Bandit helps him focus and be present so he can take in what’s going on, and follow directions better – which could easily be a safety issue. And asking the team to separate, could cause panic in my son AND his dog. Just like the wheel chair and the medicine in the examples above, Bandit helps my son have some independence he wouldn’t otherwise have. He helps JJ better enjoy his experiences and get something out of them because he’s not busy fighting anxiety, and believe me, EVERYTHING causes anxiety in this child. Bandit is the BEST thing for regulating JJ’s emotions so he’s not cycling through fight, flight, or freeze all the time.

Sometimes, new things make people uncomfortable – I completely understand, I live this – but when it comes down to it, medical devices, including service dogs, are there to balance a deficit somewhere and those situations aren’t about OUR comfort levels, they’re about making life better for someone else, specifically for someone who is struggling.

Flip side of this, service dog owners shouldn’t be jerks about it. This is something I need to watch for in myself because emotion has a way of taking over when I’m fighting for my children’s right to exist in a world that isn’t set up for them. But often times, misunderstandings can happen on both sides and a little bit of grace can go along way.

Hopefully this gives you something to think about, or helped you learn something new. Thanks for hanging in there with me 🙂

This post was a little heavy, so here’s some pictures 😀 Bandit and JJ ready for church this morning ❤

As always, here’s the Paws 4 Autism page if you’re interested in learning more about our organization.

And here’s JJ’s fundraising page. Most things in the store are currently available, like the mom hats, and we’re planning more things.

Thanks for stopping by


Alta and JJ


30 04 2021

Hey guys!

Quick post. I can’t make a Mother’s Ring, but I can make a Mother’s Cap commemorating the birth of my children 😀

I’m doing these as a Fundraiser for Paws 4 Autism and JJ and Bandit 😀

If you’re interested in purchasing one (or some) for yourself, or as gifts, the cost is $23, all of which will be going to Paws, because I’m matching the supplies cost, so together, we’re nearly doubling the fundraising impact.

You also have your choice of cap color and style. You’re not locked into this color or style of hat 🙂

To order:

Got to JJ’s Store, you can find it here: paws4autism.org/jj.html

As always, sharing is very encouraged and much appreciated.

Links of Interest:

Paws 4 Autism general info

JJ’s direct fundraising page

Thanks for stopping by!


That Time There Was Online Bingo an They Used JJ and Bandit’s Picture 😍 FUNDRAISER ALERT

27 03 2021

First, because I forget things like this, important things lol, here’s the link


Okay, the fun stuff lol. If the kiddo and the pup in the ad for the fundraiser look familiar, it’s because it is, in fact, JJ and Bandit ❤️

Now, the rest.

Covid-19 has knocked out and changed up the regular, most reliable fundraisers for Paws 4 Autism in the last year. What is typically our biggest fundraiser of the year has now been cancelled for two years in a row. So this online Bingo game is kind of a big deal.

If you didn’t know, Paws 4 Autism is a COMPLETELY volunteer run organization that trains dogs to be service dogs for autistic children. Both of my youngest boys are on the autism spectrum and I can tell you, we’ve seen some really great things with them and the dogs we’ve fostered, and Bandit, who matched to JJ a few months ago. Although he matched, we still need to fundraise to make sure the NEXT family can also have a service dog for their child.

So, from the comfort of your own home, you can sit back, relax, play BINGO, and help raise money for a really great organization. All the details are in the link above 🙂

So PLEASE help us get going by sharing this anywhere and everywhere appropriate 🙂

Thanks for stopping by!

Alta and JJ


As always, if you’d like to make a donation to JJ and Bandit’s Fundraising, you can find his

donation page here: Help JJ

For more info on Paws for Autism here

And, we’re always looking for partners and sponsors to work with Paws in the community. If you’re interested (and it doesn’t have to be a dog oriented company or individual) in partnering with us, let me know. I’ll hook you up. We do our best to brag about our sponsors anytime we can 😀

JJ and Bandit Go to Therapy – Service Dog Files

19 03 2021

I don’t know if you guys ever have this problem…but sometimes I try something and wonder if it worked.

This is especially true when dealing with my boys who have ASD. Autism can be tricky. And while JJ is amazing, he struggles with communication. With feelings – identifying them in him and others. So we can try calming techniques, but I never really know how much they’re working and how helpful they are. Or if they’re even worth pursuing. I can ask him, but it’s just not information he’s able to understand and explain. Don’t get me wrong, we can do simple happy/sad/excited kinds of things, but asking, “Does this help you calm down?” “Is this soothing?” “Does this help you relax?” All of these are much more abstract concepts that he’s still working on.

So then we have the dog. And we LOVE Bandit. We’ve seen some really good things with Bandit that lead us to believe that having him around is helping. But how do we know for sure? And what specific way can Bandit help the most?

Enter our new therapist (sometimes it feels like we have an army of them lol and we appreciate them ALL). JJ started seeing a new therapist recently to see if we could address issues like anxiety and attachment disorder. He had such an amazing year last year and made a good deal of progress and I wanted to keep the momentum going this year. Actually, that’s not quite true, we were on the waiting list for almost a year, so I would have absolutely started last year if we could lol.

So here’s the cool part. Our therapist has a heart monitor. It gently clips to the ear then plugs into the computer on the other end. It monitors the heart rate variability. How often is his heart rate is changing and how quickly. It provides a real time visual for JJ to see and our therapist is excited about working Bandit into the tools to help keep JJ’s heart beat regulated (or get it regulated if it’s not).

We KNEW we were on the right track when we saw this.

This is the read out of his last session. See the green zone? That’s where we need to be. That’s a well regulated space. See the spikes into the green zone? Those are the times he simply TOUCHED Bandit.

So while we *thought* Bandit was helping because of the outcomes in situations…we saw it, in real time, and very clearly during the session. We now have visible proof of just how much Bandit helps JJ. We can SEE how Bandit calms his boy. See that area in the blue right before the biggest spike? That’s me…and hopefully we can find ways for me to help JJ get into the green more. But this was really GREAT information to have. Because now I know, to help my son calm and regulate, it’s not, “Come give me a hug,” and holding him. This would work on his brother, but we can see clearly here, that me directing him to go “help Bandit, he looks like he needs a snuggle,” will be MUCH more beneficial for him, and really, that’s what this is about. Would I like to be the one who brings this much comfort to my son when he’s struggling and overwhelmed? Absolutely. And guess what…I am, by working with Paws 4 Autism and finding a way to provide a service dog for my son. By bringing in Bandit I’m able to help my son. And I hope this is a bridge that will go both ways, that eventually, through Bandit, I will be able to help JJ regulate and spend more consistent time in the green zone.

As I mentioned before, communication about abstract, non-visual things, is challenging. The information on this screen is not context we would have been able to get from him.

So why is this important to know? How does this translate in a real life setting?

Earlier I mentioned anxiety. Every change causes anxiety for JJ. Every question. Every request. Every time I tell him we have to go somewhere. If it’s somewhere we’ve been, I can tell him that and it helps, but not always. Even good changes cause anxiety. But just touching Bandit helps regulate JJ’s heart rate, which is the opposite of a racing, anxious heart.

A few hours after this appointment, we had an urgent care visit. This can be something that’s very anxiety inducing. JJ knows the building, but doesn’t know what to expect. I can try and explain, but that usually creates more questions that I’m unable to answer. We had Bandit with us and JJ did a good job. Bandit distracted JJ, but also comforted him. The comfort and calming helped him answer the doctor’s questions. And the staff at urgent care was amazing and open to having Bandit there. It eased what could have otherwise been a rough night for all of us.

Here’s a pic of Bandit helping my boy ❤️

The doctor was more than happy for Bandit to jump up and sit with JJ on the bed. Bandit was able to “settle” and provide a deep gentle pressure that is often calming for JJ. And JJ was able to pet Bandit, which we can see from the graph above, instantly provides positive feedback for him.

And all of this is just a really good reminder for me, that I’m on the right track. We have a significant way to go to finish our fundraising and my ideas are proving harder than I expected to pull off, partly because I’m a perfectionist lol. But this image reminds me that this is all worth it.

Thanks for stopping by and stay safe and healthy


Alta and JJ

As always, if you’d like to donate to help us reach our fundraising goal for Bandit, you can donate directly to his fundraising here: Help JJ

That Time I 3D Printed Pipes for my Bathroom…

17 01 2021

This statement is technically true, but maybe not in the way you think.

One of my absolute favorite things to do as an artist, is to create something that starts out looking one way – like paper, for example – and then working to make it take on some realism.

I’m trying to take those ideas and skills with me into 3D printing.

You may remember, we used 3D printers for some of our Paws 4 Autism fundraising for Bandit, JJ’s autism service dog. We made ear savers and 2020 Toilet Paper ornaments to commemorate the year (those are still both available).

But when I’m not busy printing for fundraisers, my printers get used for other things. Things that might be helpful around the house.

We’ve been redoing our hall bathroom upstairs. It has a kind of an ocean theme, but one that’s very easily removed so we can go a different direction if we ever choose to. This bathroom is the one that got the light switch I printed that had gears.

Well. We needed a hand towel holder and a TP holder. So I printed pieces that look like and fit together like pipes we could use for this.

We went from this

To This

To this

I used gray PLA filament. This is the same type of filament I used for the ear savers and the 2020 TP ornaments. It took some time to print, and I had to reprint a few pieces to get the right sizes for my needs. But you can see that they were individual pieces that actually threaded together. I bought the file online, and the designer did a great job with these. There are so many ways to mix and match to get what you need.

So then the next magic step began. The pieces required a couple of priming passes, a couple of coats of copper colored paint, and an oxidation spray. A lot of people sand between primer coats and painting coats, but I wasn’t going for a smooth, shiny, flawless look.

And we ended up with these.

So, there you have it. I 3d printed pipes for my bathroom 🙂

And while you’re here, I’ve got some other 3D printing fun to share in the next couple of days. It will be the next fundraiser for JJ, Bandit, and Paws 4 Autism. So don’t forget to come back 🙂

As always, if you’d like to donate to JJ’s fundraising page, you can find it here: Help JJ

Thanks for stopping by!