@ micfin, I am sorry that it makes you so emotional. Maybe you can work with stock photos for now, practice the techniques, and then use your own photos when you have them scanned and when you are feeling more comfortable. No pressure here.
@ Anja, great start! looking forward to the other ones.
@ Bonnie, the autosave settings are under File > Preferences > autosave settings
@ Jennifer, yes, it can be addictive, for sure! May I offer a tiny suggestion on your last page? Add a TINY drop shadow on the text and it will make it stand out more from the background and easier to read. And also, ateets is for Amy Teets, a scrapbook designer who did a lot of kits. Her blog is here: http://amyteetsdesigns.blogspot.ca/ (but not been updated in a while so I suspect she retired.
@ Sandra, it sure is fun. Masks are often unused or underutilized but they can be sooooo useful.
@ Britt Marie, you just discovered the Brush Variance :). It is another palette that is normally hidden that has a ton of settings. Open that palette with F11. In there, check to make sure that the POSITION JITTER at the very bottom is set to 0 (it is probably set to about 100 from looking at your image).