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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Best Moment 2010.

As we wind down 2010 {which is simply unbelievable to me} I've been thinking about 2011. I've got some plans, some dreams that will finally come to, a book proposal that will finally be ready to be accepted {or rejected}. I'm promising myself to balance things a little better and to re-prioritize a few things that got shifted. I'll be writing. Here. There. And Elsewhere.

I've also been looking back and while I'll do my typical looking back post on New Years I've been thinking about my favorites.

My favorite days.
My favorite moments.

I could even probably tell you a few of my least favorite. {I bet you could too.}

But I keep getting stuck on a couple, predictable, cliche' days, I loved.

Birthdays, anniversaries, special milestones, of course.

But there is one evening with my family that sits on my mind as my favorite.

This night.




The pictures are low quality, shot in the dark of a Virginia Beach night but oh remembering the way we laughed our heads off, danced our sillies out and loved each other. It's my best.

What's your best? What one moment or day or event this last year was your best?

Tell me for a chance to win in 2010's last giveaway- $10 Starbucks card.

Winner to be chosen by at 11:59pm 12/31/10 and announced sometime on 1/1/11.

Disclosure: The Starbucks giftcard is a sponsor gift to me that I am passing along to a reader. {Starbucks is not in anyway involved. I wish they were!}  Also, in the case that you are a business owner or etsy shop seller, I am currently accepting new advertisers for 2011. Email me for rates and information.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Thank You's. A Lost Art?


Talking with a stranger in the check out line the other day and she told me no one does or expects thank you's anymore.

We do. On both accounts.

She said something about everyone knows kid thank you's are just adults forcing kids to write them.

Agreed, right?

But how will they ever know to do them later if we don't teach them? I ask.

I really, really, really didn't like doing thank you notes as a kid. My mom would make us do them right away.

But now it's habit. I make a mental note of what I've received or the kids have opened, add it to a list and cross it off when a note hits the mail.

We make our kids do thank you notes. This year they didn't even complain. An hour, the address book and a stack of cards and envelopes and the job was done within an hour.

And T and M write real genuine things like "I'm wearing the necklace right now!" to "The savings bond will really help me when I'm in college."

H just writes Thank You and his name, I write the rest. A ghost writer named "MOM" writes E's.

Do your kids do thank yous? Did you as a kid? Do you now?

I'm curious on this one. Are thank you notes turning into a lost art?

Monday, December 27, 2010

Simplified Christmas.

Christmas morning.

With the exception of a morning visit from my dad on Christmas Day, it was just the six of us this year. And it probably sounds so selfish to say this but I loved it.

I loved the slow wake up and start of the day.

T and then M took turns coming into our room in the morning asking when it would be time.

H, who had spent his feverish night sprawled between J and I slowly realized it was Christmas morning.

E was bouncing in her crib and singing.

At last, it was time.

My words can't possibly convey how nice it was to slowly get up, to start the ham, put some sweet rolls in the oven and not have a time looming above us to get out the door to go here and there and everywhere.

We sang Happy Birthday to Jesus before we sorted the gifts and the kids opened one by one by one.

By the time my dad arrived the house looked as though a tornado had gone through. Wrapping and packaging strewn about. Baby doll furniture needing to be put together and games awaiting a read through the directions. Tags from new outfits and plates of half eaten eggs and cinnamon rolls.

We surprised the kids later in the morning with envelopes in the tree. Each found a crisp $5 bill. Their reactions were predictable.

E, clueless.
H, excited about "money!"
T and M, both baffled by it.

And then J told them the $5 was their snack money for a surprise trip to see Yogi Bear.

In the middle of the day on Christmas we went to a movie as a family.

We came home from the movie and our ham was about done so J and I heated up the potatoes and got the rolls and lefse and veggies ready and I couldn't help but think about how fleeting this time is.

How we all fit perfectly around our table now but someday we'll need more space for husbands and wives and grandchildren. {I know, I know, I was dreaming pretty far ahead.}

Christmas dinner.
H was there too, hidden on my other side.

Our kids wore whatever they wanted on Christmas though I love to dress them matching, this year there was no reason.

E wore her owl pajamas all day. T and M in new outfits for school and H, my little man, wore his suit.

H was still sick, today he is going on day five of a fever. It was so nice to be able to let him rest, to not have expectations or places to be. He was able to sit back and relax and watch Yogi Bear, he'd have a burst of energy and play Hungry, Hungry Hippos and then he'd sit back and watch Curious George Christmas and fall asleep for a snooze, something that in the past with the hustle and bustle of the day would never have been possible.

One of the best decisions J and I have made is simplifying our Christmas Day like this and staying home. Not splitting our day and our meals between families and racing from one thing to the next but truly enjoying the meals, enjoying the gifts and enjoying each other.

Here's hoping your holiday was just as sweet and simplified as ours.

The winner of the $100 Visa Giftcard from BlogHer/Kelloggs Pop-Tarts: #9 Lynde Foy
New giveaway up from Nestle' Coffee-mate over here.

Friday, December 24, 2010


On Christmas Eve morning, the littles get to open one present. They play for awhile, the house gets turned upside down and then we go to Starbucks for a break. It's tradition.

And for the last three years, J has taken a picture of my littles and I sitting together.

And I love that that's tradition now too.


H and E shared a decaf, soy, caramel frappacino.
H is still a little bit under the weather but was much improved over yesterday. Hopefully the resting and a good nights sleep tonight will help him be 100% tomorrow.

I know this is repetitive, but in addition to the gift of our Lord and Saviour, these two are two of the very best gifts God has ever given me.


Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Twas the Day Before Christmas Eve.

And we had no plans. I was really looking forward to making the day whatever we wanted.

And then H woke up with pinkeye.

Totally ok. We can deal with pinkeye. No biggie.

And then we were going to go have lunch with J and H told me his neck was hurting.

Hmm, might be that your wearing a suit and tie, my dear.

No joke. He wanted to wear his new little suit today. For our nothing day. And every day.

I really wish I had a picture of him looking all sharp.

And I quickly figured out that neck=throat and checked his temp. And before we knew it we were in the waiting room at the pediatrician. {H was the best dressed one!}

Pinkeye, strep and impetigo.

And E's got a superficial scratch on her ear drum, compliments of her little fingernails.
My lap at the doctor. Taken with my cellphone.

Copays at the doctor's office for H and E: $50
Prescription for H: $12
Redbox movies for H: $2

My nothing day with my littles: Absolutely not the way I planned it but priceless nonetheless.

Merry Christmas, friends.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

All I Want For Christmas.

Earlier this month I was thinking about posting all these things I was finding on etsy and at Anthropologie that I was loving for Christmas. I never got around to it.

And today, I honestly, had no plans {or time} for blogging.

But something happened this morning and my heart has been hurting all day over it and I just have to get my words out.

So here goes.

Growing up, every single year for Christmases, birthdays, Mother's Day, Father's Day, you name it, my parents asked for happy, content children.

I used to scoff at the request.

When you're little and you've got a few dollars burning a hole in your pocket this is NOT what you want to hear. You want to hear what you can buy and wrap up and watch them open.

I get it now, and I long for that for my children.

To be content. To realize the blessings they have. To be thankful for what they've got instead of always thinking of more or bigger or better.

But I'm taking it one further.

I want to teach my kids empathy. I want them to see beyond themselves. To feel for those around them. To reach out to those who need a friend.

I helped in M's class today. The fourth graders were making Christmas trees with hangers, tinsel and strings of lights. T did this project two years ago and his tree still stands in our living room window. It's a pretty neat craft.

Eighty fourth graders in a room, four or five teachers and a handful of parents. I sat with M and her friends. A giddy, bubbling group of girls. I was helping M with her lights and then I saw this little girl all alone. Quietly sitting away from most of the others and then I saw her arm raised and her eyes darting around as though she didn't want anyone to see her but she needed help.

I walked over and asked her if she needed help. She nodded yes. I sat and helped her while a couple of M's friends stared.

I made small talk with her while I helped her with her lights and offered her M's leftover tinsel since she had none.

I know barely anything about this little girl.

I don't know if she's a new kid in town or if she used to be a meanie. I don't know if she's just a quiet girl or if she's quiet because she's been made fun of so much but I do know that today, she was sad. She was withdrawn and left out and it made me so sad.

And I left school with watery eyes just thinking about how it would feel to think about one of my kids left out and alone at school like that.

I haven't even talked to M about it yet but I plan to.

All day long this little girl has sat on my heart.

And I wanted to make it better. Different. Right.

I admit I've done my share of making fun and being exclusive throughout my life. And I've fallen victim to both being made fun of {anyone remember telling me I walk like a duck?} and being left out too.

Neither of which I remember or look back on fondly.

But my grown up self can handle it now and make good adult choices now about how I treat others, how others treat me and also about being inclusive.

But thinking, just thinking, about one of my kids as the little girl I saw today, breaks my heart.

So in addition to happy, healthy, content children, I've got just one more thing to add. A heart for others.

May J and I, as parents, live our lives in such a way that our kids are empathetic towards others. That their hearts hurt for those that are hurting and that they want to make things right.

Give me your eyes for just one second
Give me your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing
Give me your love for humanity

Give me your arms for the broken hearted
The ones that are far beyond my reach
Give me your heart for the one's forgotten
Give me your eyes so I can see -Brandon Heath

{As an aside, I want to clarify that I don't necessarily think M did anything wrong today and in no way am I saying, she isn't empathetic. She has a great big heart, but today's situation made it even more clear to me of how important it is to teach our children the value of caring for others.}

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Traditions We Carry.

Last Christmas, after a day of hustling and bustling {in a snow storm, no less} and getting home with cranky, tired, hungry kids J and I made a decision.

No more crazy, busy Christmas.

You know what I'm talking about, don't you?

Run here, eat here, visit here real quick. Too much.

So this year we're staying home on Saturday.

We didn't take the decision lightly but we knew something had to change.

T and M are always with their mom on Christmas Eve until the evening so we really only have Christmas Day to celebrate as a family and for the past number of years we've spent the day running and running and running.

But this year we're staying home. We'll have a lazy morning opening presents and eating cinnamon rolls. There will be no rush to get ready and out the door.

We'll be able to play the kids new games and read the new books instead of piling them up and saying; "Let's Go!"

I am really looking forward to it.

We celebrated Christmas with J's family on Sunday and while I'm sure it will feel odd to not go there this year, the change was welcomed by my in-laws and we were able to relax and the kids are already able to enjoy their gifts this week.

We'll celebrate with my dad this next weekend when he'll come over and I envision it being fudge-filled and relaxing.

We'll go to church on Christmas Eve and just have Christmas Day to relax. And enjoy.
I love traditions especially around birthdays and holidays, I do. I love that every Christmas Eve we all open up new pajamas before bed. I love eating loaves of fudge like it's going out of style throughout the month of December {and lets be honest, January, too.}. I love watching every last ornament being hung on the tree and talking about who made it and when they made it. I love the excitement the kids have about St. Nicholas Day and the Advent Calendar hung on the wall. {Even on the days someone forgets to put the box up before bed.}
But this change we're making is a good one. I am excited to create a new tradition. I am excited to relax, to enjoy the day as a family. To let the kids try out their new things. To watch a movie. To eat what we want, if we want, and not because we don't want any of the families to feel bad.

I'm excited for us and for our kids to create new traditions on Christmas Day. To make them up as we go. To try things out, cross them off the list if they don't work and do it again if they do.

Last week, I read a status update from author Shauna Niequist that really resonated with me:  If this season feels crowded/frantic/shallow, my choices allowed that to happen. And I can make changes.


What are some of the traditions you've carried and how have they changed?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

It's A Merry Life.

Friday night we hosted a Holiday party with friends. {No kids!} We ate and drank and were very merry.

We shared stories and laughter, old friends were able to meet new friends. It was a happy, bubbling place with sparkling candlelight, fresh mistletoe {from my friends at B&J Trees} and a chocolate fountain.

Everyone brought an appetizer to share and a toy to donate, so we complimented one another's dips and hors d'oeuvres and Saturday morning J and I bagged up the Toys for Tots.

Friday-day had been chaotically busy as I balanced {not so successfully, mind you} getting ready for this shin-dig and being a mom. In the end, not one said a word about the couple Fruit Loops miscellaneously found on the kitchen floor.

I love having friends over, I love sitting and chatting and sharing life together. Hearing a story without interruption. I am pretty sure we all laughed until our cheeks hurt.

I love that there can be four different conversations happening and then all of a sudden they combine and it's one.

The husbands played Wii {and ate quite a bit of chocolate!} and laughed at us ladies.

I wanted to invite everyone we know. {J drew the line on that. I don't blame him.} Instead we had about 20 that made it.

There's something about a house full of people. Walking into one another rounding the island in the kitchen. Laughing, oh the laughing, about everything and nothing.

If only we could do it every week.

May we always have people to fill our house with. May we always have things to laugh about. May we always know how blessed we are.

Thursday, December 16, 2010



I pulled T and M out of school early this afternoon to go to H's preschool Christmas program. I knew it'd be 20 minutes of singing and some cookies, but it was worth it to me.

A couple parents at school and even my mother-in-law questioned the decision. I don't regret it for a second.

I want my kids to be a team. The home team. To celebrate each other. To be each other's biggest fans. To be able to look out in a crowd and see the ones who've got your back. To enjoy the little perk of leaving school early to see your little brother sing {or freeze} in front of everyone.

H only sang the first song. Jingle Bells. He knew all the rest, he's been singing them to me every chance he got for the last week. The exuberant little girl next to him drummed up a few giggles and his newfound self-consciousness started right up.

My not-a-shy-bone-in-his-body boy was a little bit shy.

During the program, M kept nudging me, "why is he looking down? Why is he being shy? He's not shy."

And even T, his whisper voice on the video says, "H, look at me, don't look at all the strangers, look at me."

Yet after the program, after the cookies and the chaos of people and sprinkles galore, we get in the car and H says "Thanks for coming to my program!"

And T and M both tell him Thank You's and You did Great's and it's clear and it's all sparkly and shiny to me when I realize the team they all root for is each other.

Winner of the Sesame Street Live tickets is: #22 Lea

Winner of Bittersweet is: #5 Rachel

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Does It Matter?

Saturday morning the snow came down and it was the perfect day to sit the two of them on their counter stools and get to work baking.


Before you think I'm some really cool, laid back mom that lets my kids make a gigantic mess in the kitchen, let me please tell you that this doesn't happen as often as it should.

I wish I could care less about silly, petty things less. I really do.

Today Henry wore the most mis-matched hodge podge outfit ever. He even had mis-matched socks on this morning, one Lightning McQueen and one Batman {his first loves!} but because he stepped in a puddle of melted ice cube on the kitchen floor he had to change his socks.

When he came out of his bedroom dressed {after having a meltdown about all of his jeans being in the laundry} I winced and I really wanted to say let's find something that goes together.

I didn't. His preschool teachers can attest to his mixture of Batman and brown, grey and bright blue this afternoon.

I am trying to care less about things that don't really matter. Because does it really matter? Does it really matter if E goes through three outfits within four hours because her mood has inspired her to change yet again? Does it matter that after baking there was flour from head to toe on the both of them?



Thank you, friends, for your comments and your facebook messages and your emails and your phone calls and your texts yesterday. I am overwhelmed by the love I received. Even just this afternoon I sat reading a few messages that were sent this morning with tears in my eyes reading some of YOUR stories and YOUR hearts. Thank you.


The winner of the book If I Could Keep You Little is comment #2. Darcie

The Sesame Street Live ticket giveaway ends Wednesday and I just posted another $100 Visa Giftcard giveaway with Pop-Tarts and BlogHer right here.

Monday, December 13, 2010

December 13. Bittersweet.

When something bad happens, people say the wrong things so often. They say weird, hurtful things when they're trying to be nice. They say things that don't hurt until later, and then when they do begin to hurt, you can't get the words out of your mind. It's like a horror movie; everywhere you turn, those awful words are scrawled on every wall.

But there's something worse than the things people say. It's much worse, I think, when people say nothing. -Shauna Niequist- {Bittersweet excerpt}

On Thursday, December 13th, 2007 at 1:05 a.m. my mother, my mumsy, passed away. She left the pain and the illness she'd been living with and fighting seven months and went home to be with our Father in heaven.

Three years, today.

I have found over time that when people find out my mom has passed away, a lot of times they don't know what to say. Sometimes it gets real awkward. Sometimes they quickly say they're sorry and then change the subject to something lighter and happier and sometimes, people say nothing.

For a long time I would avoid the subject because I was so tired of these adverse reactions. Just about lying when I'd see people that didn't know the news. Avoiding any conversations that centered around our mothers.

What's funny though is sometimes I really want to talk about it.


When you're mourning, when something terrible has happened, it's on your mind and right at the top of your heart all the time. It's genuinely shocking to you that the sun is still shining and that people are still chattering away on Good Morning America. Your world has changed, utterly, and it feels so incomprehensible that the bus still comes and the people in the cars next to you on the highway just drive along as if nothing's happened. When you're in that place, it's a gift to be asked how you're doing, and most of the time the answer comes tumbling out, like water over a broken dam, because someone finally asked, finally offered to carry what feels like an unbearable load with you.-Shauna Niequist {Bittersweet excerpt}


Sometimes things feel so fresh and I want to tell you what it felt like when I heard the news that my mom was sick. How I bought an "I heart mom" shirt in San Francisco just a couple days later. I want to tell you that I actually told an old friend that I wished it was someone else who had cancer and not my mom. As if I could make a trade with God. "I'll give you this one, God, but not her."

I want to tell you what it was like when I took my mom to chemo. How it felt to spend all day taking care of H and my family and then spending some evenings at my mom's, scanning photos for her and having dinner and hearing her say "Just like old times."

I want to tell you about the week my mom went into the hospital and how it felt to sit in urgent care with Maddy, who was sick and then getting the call that it was time. How it felt to drop off Henry with Ty and Maddy's mom and just go.

I want to tell you about the sleepless nights, wondering if a call would come and that the night the call did come, I had to run through the house to the kitchen to get the phone in time. I want to tell you that as long as I live I will not forget the words my dad spoke and his voice that night.

I want to tell you what it was like pulling a sleeping baby from his crib and riding in the car with Jeff in silence in the middle of the night. And I want to tell you what it was like walking out with my dad.

I don't believe God's up in heaven making things go terribly wrong in our lives so that we learn better manners and better coping skills. But I do believe in something like composting for the soul: that if you can find life out of death, if you can use the smashed up garbage to bring about something new and good, however tiny, that's one of the most beautiful things there is.

I learned to say something. And I offer my apologies for all the times I didn't say something. I'm really sorry about that. For a whole bunch of not very good reasos, I didn't know better then. But I know better now.

So when there's bad news or scary news of when something falls apart, say something. ... And if you don't know what to say, try this: "I heard what happened, and I don't know what to say." - Shauna Niequist {Bittersweet excerpt}


I try not to dwell on the fact that my mom passed away. When friends sit and talk about plans with their families at holidays, I listen quietly. At Mother's Day, I am silent. Everywhere I go I am asked what I am doing, or will I be seeing my mom, or what am I buying her. And it's awkward and strange and I'm never quite sure how to handle it without making it strange.

I have this friend, who's incredibly busy with her three small children. But what I love about her is there is no barrier and she'll just say it. She'll just ask. She'll say the awkward thing or ask the question while others stay prim and proper and quiet, she'll say something like, "It must have been so hard. I think about it all the time and I'm sorry." And just like that, I'm validated and I know she cares.

Another friend of mine, who has suffered her own unbearable loss a few years ago, remembers things and will just send me an email or a note and touch base with me and connect and tell me, "I was thinking of you, I know it's your mom's birthday."

Shauna's book, Bittersweet, touched me and hit a nerve in me in many ways, the chapter I've shared above is just one of many that really resonated with me.

Her essay-like chapters flow and bring you from happy laughter to tears the next. She grieves a different loss than mine and writes about it and around it and in it that you can feel the loss.

After reading Shauna's first book Cold Tangerines, I was sharing it and quoting it and telling people, they must read it. And now, after reading Bittersweet, it's the same thing. Anyone who has ever had a loss or has wavered or wondered or waffled with something must read it. Each chapter flows as though you are sitting having coffee with her and by the end, when I turned the last pages of the last chapter, it felt as though we were friends.

There would seem to be nothing bittersweet about a loss like a parent or a miscarriage or a baby but that's where I've learned I'm wrong.

Bittersweet is the practice of believing that we really do need both the bitter and the sweet, and that a life of nothing but sweetness rots both your teeth and your soul. Bitter is what makes us strong, what forces us to push through, what helps us earn the lines on our faces and the calluses on our hands. Sweet is nice enough, but bittersweet is beautiful, nuanced, full of depth and complexity. -Shauna Niequist {Bittersweet excerpt}

I miss my mom. A lot. There are so many things that have changed and ebbed and flowed and I wish so much sometimes that I could have a day, an hour even, just a little more. But I also have strangely, over the last three years, grown and while I still miss her and have a mom-shaped hole in my heart that only she could fill, I have felt at peace.

Three years feels like an eternity ago. And then again, just like I said on Evelyn's birthday about her life, it feels like yesterday.

Three years ago, today. I lost my mom. My children lost their grandma Nan. My dad lost his wife. I would be lying if I said today's not a sad day, because it is. It is bitter.

But the sweetness, my friends, comes from the memories and the smiles and the photos and the stories that are passed along.

Shauna Niequist is giving away a signed copy of Bittersweet to one of my readers. If you are interested {and I hope you are!} please leave a comment here. A winner will be chosen Thursday, December 16.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

He Makes Sense.

H, decorating Christmas cookies. This picture has really no relation to what I'm about to share.

My 78 year old grandma took a fall last weekend. She ended up going to the ER and getting stitches on her forehead. I talked to her on Monday and she was still pretty shook up. Moving slowly and asking me to please not come and visit. She said she was pretty banged up and just didn't want to scare the kids.

So we made cards instead and then on Wednesday night I found out two of my dad's sisters were bringing her back in since she was having pain in her hip.

Turns out her hip was broken and she needed a hip replacement. She's still in the hospital now, recovering, but doing pretty good from what I hear from my dad.

This morning I said something to the kids about maybe making some more cards for Great Grandma and H had some pretty interesting things to tell me:

"Great Grandma doesn't have a husband to help her because her husband's in heaven."

Yes, he is. I tell him.

"He's in heaven with God and Grandma Nan."


"And God is above us. And in our hearts. And he loves us so, so much."

At this point I kind of stopped what I was doing to really listen to what he was saying.

"Even when we're mean people."

So true.

If you think of it and you're the praying sort, please say a prayer for my grandma T and that she'll back to her busy-body self in no time.

*Two giveaways ending this week over here. Sesame Street tickets here and If I Could Keep You Little here.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Days Like This.

Everything was going along just fine. We had a lazy morning. H, you watched cartoons in my bed for a good hour before deciding to really awake for the day. And E, you ran around from room to room, making mess after mess, but with a smile on your face.

I didn't mind. Some days I know that I'm annoyed from the moment I step out of my bed and see tornado after tornado occuring but today, I didn't mind.

We had no agenda. No where we had to go, nothing we had to do.

So we leisurely started the day. With Trix cereal squished into my bedroom carpet, even that, I picked it up with a smile.

By 10 am we were on the road to where we were going.

Errands. I bet you're both so done with errands. I'm sorry.

To Penny's real quick. Then Costco. A quick haircut and Trader Joe's. And of course, there was a stop at Starbucks.

I could feel it happening in Costco. I was getting that twinge in my voice. I made you both ride in the cart. No easy feat to get you both in but once you were in, you were in.

We got milk and bottled water and string cheese. I was racking my mind wondering what else I'd come for because you both know even though I always write a list I usually leave it on the counter.

We ran into someone I hadn't seen in years. She hugged me and we started exchanging pleasantries. And H, you screamed.

"Mama. Let's GO!"

And my cheeks were burning with embarassment. I couldn't believe you did it.

We paid and we left and we went to the car where I told you over and over and over again how awful that was.

And just like that, new kid. You got your haircut with a smile and offered to help me get the things we needed at Trader Joe's.

And H, you were so good. So helpful, so polite. All the kids carts were taken and you took it in stride and carried your own basket instead.

But then we got home and it was one thing after another.

You both ran up the stairs and dumped out all the toys that go with the play kitchen before I even had my shoes off. And I could feel myself counting down the hours, looking at the clock, wondering, almost out loud, "Is it bedtime yet?"

One thing. After another thing. And another thing.

Crayons dumped on the kitchen floor. Sliding down the stairs. Toilet paper unrolled. Toys everywhere. Running laps.

My voice was sharp. My actions were quick.

Stop this. Don't do that. No. No. No.

E, you went to bed so good. You hugged me and held on to my earring in my ear and kissed my cheek at least four times. "Rock." You said and we did and we read Elmo and I laid you down and in seconds you were asleep.

H, you had tears in your eyes when I came in and you told me "It's not fair." In all honesty, I wanted to say the same thing to you.

Tomorrow will be better, I tell you and you ask me if we can still have our date tomorrow and my heart breaks just a bit that you were even worried.

I love you even on the bad days, I tell you. And you nod your head.

This is the part they never tell you. When you're expecting and your hopes are through the roof, no one mentions that there will be days that go by that you wonder what went wrong and did anything go right at all?

These bad days where I think I am as much to blame as you.

In the words of Kelly Corrigan; "If John Lennon was right that life is what happens when you're busy making other plans. Parenthood is what happens when everything is flipped over and spilling everywhere and you can't find a towel or a sponge or your "inside" voice."

We read our book, you hug me tight as though to say without words, I am so sorry for driving you crazy today and doing the opposite of everything you asked. And I whisper "I love you so much my heart is full."

And that, tomorrow will indeed be better.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Thankful Thursday.

It's Thursday, and I am fully aware it's not Thanksgiving month, but I've decided Thankful Thursday needs to be around more than just November!

What are you thankful for today?

Here's mine:

1. Good doctor's visit.
This girl had her two year appointment yesterday and weighed in at a whopping 25 pounds. Twenty-five pounds.

The nurse checked and double-checked. {And yes Miss E had clothes and a diaper on which counts as 1 pound.}

Considering 8 months ago we were struggling to get the child to gain enough weight and back in September she was losing weight, this is so, so good.

Her doctor told us to keep doing what we're doing.

I've never been so happy to see her start growing out of clothes {some of which she's been wearing since last winter!}

Her ears are perfect. Everything else is great. And though she's gained weight she's still in the 25th percentile. She goes in to the allergist after the holidays where we'll hopefully have more answers and maybe even go away from some of her food restrictions.

2. Snow.

I will probably regret saying that in a couple days when we get dumped on again but so far this year winter isn't really bothering me all that much. The temperature hasn't been too cold and the snow we've gotten has been fun for the kids.

3. Naptime.

I am realizing just how precious the window of time I have when E naps is as the last two weeks she's been a little hit or miss.

Today I really needed {and wanted!} her to nap and nope, she wasn't having it. I want to wisely use {and appreciate!} the days and times I still have naptime. She's always been such a good sleeper that I think I've taken her good naps for granted and thought of it as time I would always have to get things done and I am realizing, it's dwindling.

I am, however, praying that this is just a growth spurt and her normal three hour plus naps are soon to return.

So, what are you thankful for today?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Baby Jesus.

There is a nativity atop our piano that I bought the year H was born. Ironically enough I used a gift certificate from some Jewish friends to buy it.

It's nothing fancy. There's Mary. Joseph. Baby Jesus, who often goes missing in our house. A sheep. And then the wood manger with a bright yellow star.

The figures are glass but I let the kids handle them.

I have always wanted one of those Fisher Price nativities and finally this year when Target had them half off a couple weeks ago I swooped one up before they sold out.

These two love it and play with it together.

They never do it alone, just together.



I love that they love it. I love that E's got a wiseman hanging out of her mouth and that H's favorite piece is the camel.

Most of all I love that H can tell E the story with the figures. I love that he asks me to tell it again.

I would someday like one of those pretty, fancy, so very breakable, beautiful nativities to sit atop my piano. But right now I want my kids to approach the nativity and see the story and want to move the story around and tell the story and with a pretty, fancy, so very breakable, beautiful nativity, that wouldn't be possible.

This is what we choose to focus on at Christmas. Over and over and over again.

And yes some days {many days?} we get side tracked and stuck on a to-do list of errands and shopping and wrapping to get done. But in the end, if they know the story and why we're doing what we're doing, we will have done our job.


Two new giveaways are up over here tonight.

Children's Book: If I Could Keep You Little by Marianne Richmond and Sesame Street Live Tickets.

Monday, December 6, 2010


And this year, we wished together.

Rachel came and picked up her stuff for Haiti today.

There were toothbrushes and toothpaste. Crayons, coloring books, puzzles, magna doodles and toy cars and mini monster trucks. Bubbles and jump ropes. Flossers, markers, dolls, pens and lollipops. Silly bands and lip balm. {Those kids are going to love it all.}

Thank you.


Thank you.

Her suitcases are full. To the brim.

Her suitcases are paid for. Every last cent.

And there is money left over for shoes. And I told her today as we wished her well and promised to pray that she had better take a lot of pictures and that I expect to see that family in shoes!

Thank you.

For listening to my wish, reading my sometimes crazy thoughts and ideas, taking them in, making a choice and doing something good.

We did something good here.

Thank you.

Cover that girl in prayer. For travel. {She and her traveling companion are traveling seperately tomorrow due to frequent flier miles.} For safety. {There have been protests and riots recently due to the recent election.}For health. {There is a cholera outbreak in Haiti right now.}

Winner of the tickets to Christmas Again: #3 Stephanie. Stephanie please email me with your contact info and the show day/time you would like your tickets for!

Two more giveaways to come tomorrow.

Friday, December 3, 2010


We didn't get much sleep last night.

J was putting together E's new play kitchen to surprise her with this morning. Though we've had the kitchen for months we pretty much waited until the last minute to get it put together. It was after 1am the last I looked at the clock and then before we knew it there was a happy chatter coming from the crib and H bouncing up and down asking when we can get up and get this birthday celebration under way.

5:45am, people.

But birthdays are my thing. So we dragged ourselves out of bed, rubbing our eyes, willing them to stay open because this is her first day of being two and we were going to do it up right.
I won't ever forget it. Her excited wiggly body running around playing. Enjoying her balloons and presents to open. I say it all the time but it's true, this is the good life.
She got her first real baby doll. She's played with M's hand me down dolls (with their leftover food remnants stuck in their mouths and all) and she's got a couple miniature baby dolls but this was it. She's in love.

There is so much to say about this sweet girl who captured our hearts two years ago.

It seems as though eternity has passed since then, yet it seems like yesterday.

There are moments where I can re-live and tell each and every detail of that day as if it were just the other day and I think sometimes I remember so well because it was an emotion-filled day.

The one day in my life {within three hours, no less} that I experienced every emotion. From excitement over meeting this new baby who teased us for a month. To fear, when there was no heartbeat, when there was shouting, when there was rushing and hushed voices real quick. To overwhelming sadness over what might be and to anger when I prayed to God a secret, angry prayer. To a moment of calm when that rhythmic ba-dum, ba-dum, ba-dum came back. To excruciating pain. To joy.

The day ended in joy.

I know this picture doesn't show Miss E besides her pink hat and I know my face is mostly covered by my hair but if there was one picture of E's day of birth I would use to share that day, this would be the one.

For awhile after losing my mom I was so ungrateful and dissatisfied with God and in these moments I was overwhelmed with gratitude and love and peace.

And two years later, I still am.

Evelyn Nanette. Our two year old wonder.

She is changing and turning as we watch. She's seeming older and talking more and growing, like really growing now.
She has a ready smile and a bubbly, contagious, from the pit of her stomach, laugh. It's that baby belly laugh and oh, has she got it.

Her telling eyes and calm persona are still there.

Much of what I wrote last year still rings true....

Happy Birthday Miss E!

You are loved in an unconditional, incomprehensible way.

You are sunny and warm and full of life. You brighten everyone's day around you with that big grin.

You live up to your giant grown up name with your big, blue, wise eyes.

We couldn't have hoped or prayed for a more content little girl who fills up our life.

We thank God for you every day.

May you continue to be curious and continue to exude the overwhelming kind of happy. Please keep reminding me to slow down to enjoy the days.

Thank you for all the yesterdays, and all the tomorrows to come, but let me appreciate and enjoy you today for who you are and where you're at right now.

Love, Mama

*Birthday shirt is from here. I bought it and was not compensated blah, blah, blah..

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Let's Do This.

Hello, December One.

*The Advent Calendar has begun and we're doing it differently this year. Instead of having all 24 boxes up on the wall for the little hands in my house to knock down fifty-seven times before Christmas, I'm putting them up one at a time.

*H came home with this from preschool today.
This is our family and our house.

And our two {invisible} pets.

This is one of those projects that he will find all tattered and torn in the bottom of a Rubbermaid bin 20-some years from now and I hope that he'll call me then and I will tell him exactly how it felt seeing him take it out of his backpack today and show me with pride; his family.

*There's a little girl turning two this week in our house. Her birthday shirt finally arrived today. Nothing like last minute. {I ordered it October 18!}

Here's a sneak peak of the backside:


It's pretty much my favorite birthday shirt yet.

*This is what underneath our Christmas tree looks like.

Those gifts are all from M. Who has a generous heart for her family.

At Target the other night she spent all $12 she had in her little coin purse picking things out for her family even after we told her over and over and over again she needn't get us anything.

"But I like to give!" She argues and she does.

Give, child, give. Keep giving your whole life through. We need more people like you, honey!

And that tree skirt, are you in love with those ruffles? HomeGoods, baby!

*She wears nightgowns now.

The other night I peaked in at her while she was sleeping and her legs were out from under her blanket and I noticed that she has little girl legs. Not baby legs, but little girl legs.

*There's a story in Minnesota Parent this month about H's Superhero party from last April. The story is here. And if you missed it back in April all the birthday party details are available here.

*I've got a job. And yes, while I've been doing random freelance here and there for quite a while, I now have a regular consistent, like write on a deadline sort of schedule job. I'm thrilled and excited. Yet, adjusting.

It came about very quickly and completely out of the blue. But I am thankful and feeling up for the challenge.

This afternoon I had one of those meltdown moments of wondering how it's going to work with everything else I've got going. I was on the phone with my editor while E was crawling across the kitchen table and H was screaming, literally SCREAMING at her to get down. I hang up the phone, look at the scrawled note I just wrote about what I need to get done by Saturday and I literally stood still for a moment.

I can do this. I can do this.

"She believed she could, so she did." -Suzanne Berry

*I am still asking you to consider donating to Rachel's trip to Haiti. We've got prayer support coming from the Domincan Republic. We've got a package coming from Green Bay, Wisconsin. Can you give up your latte tomorrow morning to donate $4? If we got a good chunk of readers to donate just that, she'd be good to go.

*Finally, I've got some giveaways awaiting.

Minnesota friends, Bravo Productions, LLC presents Christmas Again at the New Hope Cinema Grill. December 19 and 20.

A humorous, musical Christmas review including many of your favorite Christmas songs.

Leave a comment saying something other than pick me or I want to go to the show and you're entered to win a set of two tickets to the performance of your choice.

For more information or to buy tickets {only $15!} go here.

Winner to be chosen Sunday December 5 at 8pm.

{Disclosure 1: HomeGoods gave myself and several other bloggers a $25 gift card to use as we pleased this holiday season. }

{Disclosure 2: Bravo Productions, LLC has given me two complimentary tickets to the show and two to giveaway for hosting this giveaway and passing along the information!}