Sunday, December 30, 2012

American Girl Customer Service Rocks!

We took our first trip to the American Girl store this week.  Gracie loves her dolls and takes the responsibility of caring for them very seriously.  I will smile and giggle when she is caring for them because it is so sweet, and she looks at me like "This is a very serious job.  It isn't funny!"

We had doubled up on some items and needed to make a return and I thought the experience would be too fun to do in person instead of sending it back in the mail.
If you can go at Christmastime, DO, it is gorgeous!

We were mesmerized from the start.  It is an enormous store and is full of any and all things AG.  We missed the Bistro hours, sadly but it looks fun and surprisingly affordable.

While we were there, John set Cecile down to fix a display that was in a precarious position.  I grabbed her so we wouldn't forget her and in the process, her hat fell off.  We realized it quickly and returned to the spot and it was gone!  Someone had taken it and Gracie was so sad.

I called American Girl that night (at 11:30 PM- their customer service hours are amazing) and they are sending a complimentary replacement.  This is the third time I have called their CS and have always had amazing assistance from them.

Their items definitely are pricey and it will be a slowly compiled collection, but the workmanship and customer service make it so worth the money.

Thanks, AG!

Before the hat-tastrophe!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

eSalon Review (And Offer!)

I first read about eSalon in InStyle magazine.  It had actually been written about a long time prior to me reading it, but I got a year behind in my magazine reading.  So if you saw me in 2012 wearing 2011 styles, that's why.  Or it could be that I live predominantly in yoga pants and superhero tee shirts.

I read that eSalon is customized salon-esque haircolor that you do yourself at home, with all the tools and detailed, customized instructions sent by the company to your door.

Anyhow, the idea intrigued me- I am constantly changing my hair and looking for the best inexpensive way to do so.  I was especially interested at this point in time because I had butchered my hair.  Nope, I am not talking about that time I put my hair in pigtails and just chopped, hoping it was even, or the time(s) that I have cut my own bangs and called my sister in a panic to come fix them NOW.

It was when had I decided to ombre my own hair at home.  Gracie colored this picture for me at church the Sunday after I did it:

This rendering actually looks a lot better than it did in real life.  Gracie was being generous. I messed it up more than once actually, trying to get  just the right  ombre effect, and my ends were fried.  And orange. 

I'd had a bad experience at the last salon I'd visited and was not interested in paying $100 to cover my mistake, but I have had iffy results with boxed color in the past too.  It was perfect timing to try eSalon.  

I went to their website and answered a hair history questionnaire with no small amount of shame. I'm cruel to my hair. I am known to change my hair color every few months and may show up blonde, or a redhead.  I've had pink and purple hair, too.  Anyhow, at the end of the survey, I came to this summary page:

Before checking out, I was given the options to purchase a tool kit and color brightening shampoo.  I also selected if I wanted a one-time order or shipments sent to my home on regular intervals of my choosing.   My order arrived within three days!

I did not photograph the process then, but when I emailed eSalon and told them I wanted to review their product, they sent me another package so that I could photograph the product for the blog.  Here it is:    



They think of everything, they even sent a battery!

Is this supposed to be me?  I look swanky!
Here came the tricky part- the part that almost made me stop the process.  There were two bottles of color in the box, with different labels:

So I did something I never do...I read the instructions.

After this, I felt more confident and was prepared to move on.  In the center part of the package was a box labeled 'accessories'.  

I opened it was was really excited by what I found:

TWO pairs of gloves, stain remover, stain guard and your standard after-color conditioner.  I cannot be the only person who messes up a pair of gloves, then needs to go to the bathroom or tie a shoe and then makes a colossal mess trying to get the nasty gloves back on, and I KNOW I cannot be the only person who has had to cancel plans because my hair color did not stay solely on my hair...

So...I followed the instructions to the letter, and it was actually VERY easy.  Essentially, you use one bottle on your roots and another on your ends, then you do a rinse in the shower.  Your instructions will likely vary from mine because I have a different hair history and hair goal.


Okay, so not only is this a picture of my bad DIY ombre (and a bad picture of me in general), but you get a bonus photobomb from Philip.


I plan on using eSalon for all of my coloring in the future.  Without a discount code, it runs about $20 per treatment.  So, about double the cost of box color and a third of the cost of salon color.  

1) Cost compared to salon visits.
2) Ease.
3) Vibrancy of color (I noticed that my color looked fresher and brighter than when I color via box).

1) If you are used to coloring from a box, this is more expensive.  But, I have found the color to be better and the application less risky.
2) If you like to color your hair on impulse, the three day wait will feel like torture.  

Here's the deal- is offering my readers half off of their first order!  Just follow the link.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

What Love Looks Like (Christmas 2012 Edition)

What does love look like?  This will be a regular blog theme here.  It is displayed in different ways every day.

Today, love looks like a pair of penguin socks.  John, with everything else he has to do, and regardless of the fact that we do not exchange Christmas gifts as a general rule, made a trip to the store to buy me penguin socks for Christmas.

Lady is guiltily chewing on a stolen bone, and love is Brinkley letting her have it and instead happily chewing on a noisy squeaking penguin toy from his stocking. 

The kids are playing outside in the snow, the glorious snow that we did not expect to have on Christmas day, considering that it was 80 degrees last week.  Love is the fact that on this snowy day, Philip gave Gracie his waterproof gloves even though it meant he would be wearing the kind that will get soggy and cold fast.

Thursday, December 20, 2012


This past week, I have heard many stories of someone's life being changed by their community.

I have received my own 'community support' many times this holiday season.  Ranging from a friend sending me a message of support and strength via Facebook, or a box of goodies arriving on my doorstep from the kids' Gammie on just the day everyone needed a 'pick me up', every day there has been something to show me how blessed I am.  I am surrounded by a beautiful group of people.

How can you show someone in your community (whether it be virtual or physical) you care in the year to come?  I am going to look for new ways to support my community and just maybe I will change someone's day.  :)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Bad Band Name Ideas #2

Something funny happened with my last bad band name idea- it turned out to be a real band name!  I purchased a dashboard Jesus figurine on a spring to bring to the church gift exchange.  I joked to John that 'Dashboard Jesus' would be a funny candidate for our little game.  I searched the web and lo and behold it IS a band name!

Monday, December 17, 2012

What Is Your Favorite Christmas Song?

In elementary school, I came home and announced that "The Dreidel Song" was my favorite Christmas song ever.  That is one of my favorite little anecdotes, but I guess 'ever' didn't mean forever because now, hands down, my favorite Christmas song is Oh Holy Night, and I listen to it year round.  If you have not heard David Phelps sing it, here is a video.  The song begins at 1:25

What is your favorite Christmas song?

Friday, December 14, 2012

Shooting In Connecticut (Harden not your heart)

This morning, an elementary school was shot up in Connecticut.  I found out about it through Facebook and went on to read more via news websites.

My initial thoughts were ones of pain for the parents and the students.  Then someone posted that we should remember to pray for the gunman's family.  Oh how true that was, and I made sure to do that as I prayed for the families.

As the morning has worn on, posts spewing hate began to pop up.  Hate towards our President, and our laws and immigrants and minorities and the list went on and on.  The pain that I felt when I first heard the news was compounded.  Was this their solution to the problem?

People like to have someone to blame.  And, like my Uncle Brian has said with so much wisdom, "Compassion and acceptance.  Hard to do.  Anger is easier."  I am going to try for the compassion and acceptance.

 Love is the solution.  God is the solution.

Father, help us to show others the Love that You have shown to us.  The mercy and the goodness too.  Be with these families who have been affected forever by this tragedy and soften our hearts.

I am also praying that my own heart not be hardened.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Giant Snowflakes And Other Sundries

When I was a kid, I got an autograph from Seth Green.  It said "Much love and other sundries" above his name.  I remember looking up the word sundries when I got home and thinking "Love is not sundry".  But I valued that autograph because I have always liked his work, and I probably still have it in a box somewhere.

Which leads me to the point of this post which is OH MY GOSH, do I have a lot of stuff.  I am like a mini hoarder.  While going through things, it would not be surprising to hear me exclaim "Ooh, look- a napkin from our first date!"

With Philip in 'rest mode' last weekend after his trip to the hospital (I will write a blog post on Philip soon, I need to), John and I had a lot of time on our hands.  I had not left the house in a week except for a brief trip to the store for milk, and the hospital.  That in and of itself is crazy making stuff- so I needed to be accomplishing things.  So I cleaned and purged.

We do not do big Christmases when it comes to gifts but I realized that adding anything to this house without removing something would be insanity.  Plus, we are not even done unpacking and we have been here for a year!  Yes, it has been a year if you know what I mean, but even with everything we have been dealing with, we need to finish unpacking.

So I found a Christmas decoration that John and I bought our first Christmas together.  It is a large snowflake with a hook on the bottom.  Our names are on the large snowflake, and the idea is that every year, you hook another, smaller snowflake onto the bottom with the year on it.  I had the great presence of mind to buy two of the 'add-on- snowflakes.

We are now exactly 11 snowflakes behind and not only that, but we now have two kids who are missing from The Great Family Snowflake.

I was not great at thinking ahead, obviously.  Was I hoping that miraculously ever year for the next 75 years, I would find a tiny hooked snowflake while out shopping?  By the time we hit 15 years, this thing would be a monstrosity, where was I planning to put it?

So I am encouraged now to look at everything before I bring it home and think it through.  Because clutter is stressful, and it is a lot of work to go through a lifetime of things.  I don't want to keep so many 'things' that I cannot enjoy them or remember why I have them. I also don't want to buy 4 cheap bath mats to 'save money' when I could have purchased a very nice one for less than what I shelled out for the 4 cheap ones.

So for 2013 I am challenging myself to be a conscientious purchaser and add high quality items to my life and be mindful of the quantity of things I purchase and hold onto.  I just hope I can convince myself to throw away the ginormous snowflake ornament.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Bad Band Name Ideas #1

Sometimes I will say a phrase and think "That would make a really terrible name for a band.  Yet someone, somewhere would think it was brilliant."  For whatever reason, this happens a lot.  Tonight's was:

Preliminary Grime

Saturday, December 8, 2012

American Girl Tutu Tutorial

Our American Girl adventure has been a short one so far, but I have a feeling this will become a great hobby for Gracie and I to take up together.  John and Philip have big plans for constructing doll scenes and beds, making carpentry a hobby of theirs.

It all started when an unsolicited American Girl catalog arrived in the mail, and it just so happened that Gracie checked the mail that day.  She instantly fell in love with the Marie Grace doll and collection.  It was the only thing she wanted for Christmas.

My Dad emailed a few days later and asked what the kids wanted for Christmas.  Seeing as they each only had one thing on their list, we agreed to split the list and Marie Grace was ordered and on her way!  I was positively giddy.  When she came, John and I oohed and ahhed quietly over each little thing in the box.  

Then the amazing happened and American Girl decided to offer Marie Grace and her best friend Cecile at over 60% off, AND the bed too.  I ordered, knowing I could return the full price Marie Grace and in her place with a small investment more, get two dolls and a bed.  That was an exciting day in our house!  Cecile is a gorgeous doll, and now there will be two dolls who can play together and we can host tea parties.  And ballet recitals!

The idea of a tutu came very quickly because I make people sized tutus already.  I had all the supplies and the idea of a tiny tutu was just too cute.  I do not plan on purchasing most things from American Girl, I would like to make most of it if I can.  

So here it is, the American Girl Tutu Tutorial!

1.  Choose your tulle and ribbon, and have a pair of scissors handy.

2.  Decide how long you want your tutu to be.  I like mine to be medium length, because if they are too long, they lose the puffiness.  For the medium length tutu, I cut the tulle into 11" strips.  You'll want about 2 feet of ribbon so that you can tie the tutu in a pretty bow in the back.

3.  Your doll's waist is about 11." around.  So I tie knots in the length of ribbon on either side of 11" like this:  
This will become the 'base' for my tulle.  When this area between the knots is full, I know my tutu is done.

4.  Make a 'U' shape with your tulle and place it underneath your ribbon.

5.  Bring the bottom two edges together and loop through the bottom 'rung' of tulle and pull.

then tighten, and you will have a knot.  The tighter you tie these knots, the more tulle you will be able to place on the ribbon, and the fuller your tutu will be.  If you leave them a little looser, you will still end up with a full tutu and will save on material costs.

Then just keep going until you have filled up the space on the ribbon between the two knots.  The ribbon will be squished under the tulle knots but that won't matter, it will not be seen.  I like to use two colors in my tutus, but you can do any number of colors, just alternate as you are knotting your tulle.

When you are done, tie a bow in the back and voila- a tutu for your doll that cost less than $5 and you will likely have enough tulle left over to make more tutus for kids or dolls!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Santa Medley

John and I were in the car one time. John was scrolling through my Christmas playlist and he says in a very confused voice "I'm going to play this one.  I wonder what a Santa Medley is?"  You have to know that he did not say Santa, but it came out sounding like Saaahn-taaaah.  I said "Do you mean the SANTA Medley?"

We laughed and laughed and laughed.

Anyhow I was thinking about Santa today. We are somewhere in between two schools of thought, which happens with a lot of things actually, and usually neither side of whatever issue it is is thrilled with whatever I say. But we have managed this issue pretty well and haven't caught a lot of flak for it, fortunately.

We decided when we first had kids that we were not comfortable with telling them Santa was real.  Santa is part of our Christmas celebration in that we might have ornaments or other decor with him, and we love Santa movies.  When our kids asked if he was real, the answer was "no, not in the sense that most people say he is".  As they got older we talked about the various stories about where Santa came from and who he was.  They haven't suffered from a lack of Christmas cheer and appreciate that we were honest with them.

Our biggest concern was- how to keep our kids' mouths shut so that they do not spoil anyone else's Christmas traditions???  This was pretty simple, we just told them it is not something we discuss outside our home because we never know what someone else chooses to teach their children.

I can't even count how many times I have heard the Santa debate come up in a group of Moms.  It boils down to this- you know your kids and you know your values.  There's a way to do what you feel is right for your family and it might not look like what anyone else is doing.  So enjoy your Santa (or your Saaaahntaaaah) or your menorah and Santa combo, or your Santa-free Christmas and rest easy and PLEASE drink looooooooooooots of cocoa.

What are your favorite traditions?  I would love to hear about them; you can share them below in a comment!!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Accomplished Mama

I am feeling like quite the modern Proverbs 31 woman today.  I woke up at the crack of dawn to get a great American Girl deal, shared the deal with a friend, made a nutritious and yummy breakfast for my kids, and they rose up and called me AWESOME!  I'm even clothed in something more significant than my ripped up Batman tee shirt and Hello Kitty pajama bottoms.

Considering that most days, keeping everyone alive and taking a shower feel like major achievements, I am feeling fabulous.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Making Christmas Memories That Matter

I have a tendency to be anxious.  This means that the scripture "Be anxious for nothing" is something I constantly remind myself of.

Christmastime seems to bring out some of the worst of these anxious tendencies, which is really so totally backwards from what it should be.  My 'need' to over-schedule and micromanage can really squash any Christmas cheer.  Ever heard the song "It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year"?  Yeah, well it is really not if Mommy is getting a tension headache over how the garland hangs.

So last year, our first Christmas in our first house, I made a decision.  Christmas would be fun.  Most people probably don't need to make this a decision, but I did.  This meant a lot of little decisions that I had to hold myself to for the whole season.  Decisions like:

I do not have to do every fun Christmas craft or activity I see.  This will stress me out, which will stress the kids out.  And there are only so many foam Snowmen I can store in my attic.

I will not try to create 34 new traditions in hopes that generations to come will continue them.  But I can continue the few simple traditions that we have had for years now that mean the world to my kids- a sleepover under the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve.  New jammies for the sleepover that will be opened on Christmas Eve.  Making a gingerbread house together.  Starting Christmas music as early as humanly possible.

I do not have to attend every event I am invited to.  I will choose to do the ones that mean the most to our family, like Christmas Eve services at church, or game night with my sister and her family.

Decorating the tree does not need to be stressful like it was in years past.  I will let the kids decorate the tree and it will look crazy but they will have a blast.

If John is not jumping up and down with joy at all the decorating, that is okay too.  That is not who John is, that is who I am.  If I try to make him into another me, this will lead to stress for him and stress for the entire family.  I have enough Christmas sparkle to make up for his quiet Christmas enjoyment.

I will not over-engage myself in the commercialism of Christmas.  I will make people and the birth of Christ the focus of my season.  I will look for ways to give, not receive.

Since I am being totally candid, I'll let you in on a little secret- these decisions were not made PRIOR to last Christmas, but as I saw ickiness and stress entering our holiday.  This year, I have a head start.  It already feels so much better.

Now, I hope you will excuse me as I allow myself to (calmly) go readjust a few ornaments on my wacky looking Christmas trees so they don't tip over...because my kids only decorate the front.  And heavily.  ;)

Someone (usually me or Philip) is guaranteed to choose dorkdom when it is time for pictures.  This time the kids both did.  And so cute too.  These lights are now haphazardly strewn across my favorite tree, full of 'memory' ornaments.  I love it!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Without John...

John was standing in the kitchen the other day and I said "You know what?  If I hadn't met you..." and I didn't even get to finish.  He interrupted me and said "Oh, you'd be WEIRD."

AHAHAHAHAHA.  Seriously though the ending of that statement was originally going to be "I would have either married someone else who had zero patience for me and murdered me violently or I would have ended up alone with 22 cats, and eventually when I died, it would be the smell emanating from my apartment that would let people know I had died.  Thanks for loving me and marrying me!"

Of course once he interrupted me, I felt like finishing it with, "You would have been an eternal college student, spending your free time alone in your parents basement playing video games."

Obviously I hold both of us in higher esteem than these pictures I am painting, and they are meant to be more humorous than true, but the point is- John and I are a good match, and I am so thankful for him.

Yesterday Philip was complaining about something John was making him do.  Philip came to me, outraged and said "You would NEVER make me do it this way, can you tell him not to?"

We sat down immediately and I told Philip in no uncertain terms- John and I are a team.  He will never be able to come to me and successfully ask me to disregard what John has told him or get me to disrespect him by undermining his authority.

John and I do not always agree about how to handle things but we do agree to back each other up.  Sometimes this means stepping out of the room and discussing why we have made the decision we are making.  This is not disrespect, this is smart parenting and coupledom (is that a word?).

I finished out the conversation with Philip by explaining to him why the differences between John and I make our relationship more interesting, and in many ways better, and how the differences between a lot of people are what give life variety and make it interesting.  I reminded him that trying to force someone to be like you or someone else will end badly.

So whether or not I would have had 22 cats or not is something I (thankfully) won't ever know, but I do know that I value John and cannot imagine navigating life without him.  He's my person.  :)

Friday, November 23, 2012

Photo Worthy

In our social media drenched society, it can be easy to lose yourself in 'interacting and sharing' on your phone, iPad, computer or other gadget, and lose your involvement in the people you share your life with.

It is also really easy to get caught up in putting out a certain image instead of focusing on living a quality life.  I was about to post a picture to Instagram the other day when a thought bubbled up inside of me.  "Am I living a beautiful life that I happen to take pictures of, or is my desire to take great pictures making a life that looks good a little less good?"

I love social media, and taking pictures of my kids.  I want them to have photos to share with their children and grandchildren.  But more than that, I want a genuine life that my kids can look back on and say I lived with them.  If I happen to capture that in a photograph, then I am happy.    I want it to be full of real joy and real experiences, nothing manufactured or wrapped up neatly solely for others to enjoy.

It is also important to remember that NOBODY has a perfect life, regardless of what you may see on Facebook.  I know so many moms like myself who are tired and overwhelmed and in reality not everything looks great all the time.  But there is enormous pressure for us to be 'on' all the time.  Our kids feel that pressure.  (Ironically, I wrote a great Facebook post about this once, I will have to find it...)

So, I am encouraged to put down the phone and camera a little bit more.  To be hands on and not worry about what other people will see or think or about what they do.  To live the best life I can live with my family.

Here are some quotes to finish off this entry:

"Don't compare your behind the scenes to someone else's highlight reel."

"Comparison is the thief of joy."

"I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction.  The world will have a generation of idiots."  (Attributed to Albert Einstein; though I cannot find a reliable source.)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A Sunny Disposition

Growing up, I was called Little Mary Sunshine more than once.  John calls me sparkly.  I was often asked "Are you really this happy all the time?"

Some people could see past it though, to the turmoil underneath it all.  It was there for a long time, and it is something I still struggle with on occasion.  Some people just have a sense of these things.  I have been told frequently over the years "You have to let people in.  You don't have to put on a smile all of the time.  People don't know what you need if you don't let them know."

God gives us community for so many reasons.  We all have something to give others, and we need to be prepared to receive from others in turn.  We should share our lives with the people closest to us.  If you don't let people in on your joy or your trials, you are missing out.  By no means do you or I have to go around spilling our difficulties on everyone we meet, but you will know who to talk to about what and when you should do it.

This is something I am learning to do.  It is not in my nature, and was not something that was nurtured in me.  I was taught that you keep things to yourself.  That you never want to be a bother to people, and that if you really ever let people know the real you, or your struggles, they won't love you and respect you.  So I learned to hide my problems.

In my desire not to 'bother' anyone with my problems, and by not opening myself up to be vulnerable to the people I trust and love, I had placed myself in a little box, isolated and disconnected.

I am learning to be more honest and open when something is wrong.  And I continue to be free in my smiles and laughing because that is the real me too.  I really was and am pretty happy most of the time.  It isn't a lack of problems, but I am naturally more likely than not to genuinely smile anyhow.  There really is more good than bad, and always something to be glad about.

Thankfully, there are many people in my life who love the smile and love the person behind it, problems and all.  And they encourage me and teach me and are here for me in good times and bad.  And that makes me ever so thankful.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Giving Thanks, Regardless

Having everything you want or need is not a prerequisite for thankfulness.  Thankfulness exists in all circumstances if it is something you are willing to make a non-negotiable priority in your life.  Whenever I start to get gloomy (it happens- life is not always easy), I make a point to name some of my blessings.  I do the same thing with the kids.  I want them to live a grateful life.  I believe this will assist them when they are adults in handling difficult times with grace.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Life With Dogs

Does anyone else lose all sense of intelligence and dignity when talking to dogs?  I don't even make sense.  Even my dogs think I am a lunatic.  But that is just the way I talk to them.  John isn't any better.  He isn't a mushy sort and when we first got them, I said to the dogs "Your Daddy lovses the fluffy wuppies so much, doesn't he?" and he looked at me like I had lost my mind.  He said "I don't love animals."

Fast forward a year and 'somehow' they end up curled up with him in bed sometimes, and 'somehow' if they don't rush to the door when he gets home, he gets sad and says "I don't like it when the dogs aren't available to greet me when I get home."

Dogs have made a really good life even better.  Every day is improved by having them to talk to, pet, take care of.  Who knew?

The dogs, wanting to take a ride.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Kinder Than Necessary

I found an old journal of mine the other day.  Reading through it was like reading through the thoughts of someone I didn't know.  I was young when I wrote it and that is part of it- I saw immaturity in the way I viewed people and situations, but what struck me the most was how much I did not like people.  I had unkind things to say about nearly everyone I met.

This isn't who I am now.  It is easy to forget what once was.  I wouldn't have ever said that I had been an unkind or mean person- but that is what I was.  Thank God that is no more and that I am growing and changing.  I will probably look back on today in ten years and not recognize myself.  I hope that is the case.  I want to be on a constant path of improvement as I get older.

On this journey I am on, I have a goal- be kind to everyone I meet.  Be lavish with compliments and conservative with criticisms.  It is much easier to do these things in person when you start in your mind and heart.  It also helps to spend time with people who don't treat others badly.

I read a quote recently which I will probably butcher- but here is the gist of it.  "People who judge me for my choices don't know the options I had to choose from."  I know that I have been in a position even recently where people could not understand the reasoning behind decisions I have made.  My hope is that when it comes down to things, people know me and know my heart and will trust my judgment without knowing all the details.  But do I extend this grace to others?  Not as much as I like.  This thought has been ringing in my mind a lot recently whenever I am tempted to jump to judgment of a person or a situation.  Another good one is "Be kinder than necessary- you never know the battle someone is fighting."  (Of course the argument could be made that it is necessary to be as kind as possible always, but the sentiment remains the same).

Sunday, November 11, 2012

A Helping Hand

Something I am purposing to do is letting the kids help me with various tasks around the house.  I don't mean their chores; John is a very tidy type of person (the kind of person I want to be and just am not) and has had them doing various age appropriate chores for a while now.

I mean baking cookies and fixing dinner, helping in the garden, etc.  These tasks are not easier with extra hands at their ages, but it is worth it to see the look of delight when Gracie is eating a cookie she helped make or Philip sees a flower bloom whose bulb he had gently placed in the dirt.

I never regret involving my kids in a project, but I have found that I am most frustrated and disappointed with myself as a parent at the close of days when I realize I have not shared my day with them; instead I rushed through the things I needed to do so that they would be 'done'.

I hope that I remember to allow my kids to give me a helping hand more often.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Family Connections

When I was growing up, a cousin sent out a newsletter a few times a year to keep extended family in touch.  I loved receiving this newsletter and writing my contribution.  I was sad to see it fall by the wayside.

Imagine my delight when I opened the mail today and found that the newsletter had been resurrected!  I want my children to know who they are connected to and what is happening in their lives. I love receiving mail and reading it with the kids.

My kids, by the way, are Philip and Gracie and they are 10 and 7.  They bring me so much joy.  John is my husband- steady and true and a wonderful person to be sharing my life with.

There is nothing on the planet more important to me than family.  I know that sounds trite; most people feel that way.  But I feel it so deeply.  I want to be with the people I love.  I enjoy being with my husband and children reading a good book together more than I would enjoy a night out at the movies with friends.  The fact that my family is spread coast to coast is hard for me.  My Dad is coming for Christmas and I am counting the days! I think about all of these people every day and make sure to tell stories of them to my kids.  Philip loves knowing that he is named for his grandfather and great grandfather. I love to look at old photo albums with the kids.  Philip looks just like my Dad when he was younger.  Gracie looks just like John. We use my great grandmother's butter dish.  These are the things that are important to me.

Our church family has moved beyond friendship to the status of family. I could call any one of the people at church at 1:00 am if I needed help.  I know they are here for us.  They love our kids, we love their kids.  We break bread together and laugh together and worship together.  I love it.  So many times I will be carrying something in my heart, and someone will come to me and say they felt they needed to talk to me.  There is usually a timely word of encouragement or correction.

Anyhow, this being my first real blog post, and having received the family newsletter this morning, I thought you should get to know the people that I love a little bit.  They are on my heart always!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


I have noticed a trend in the things I think about recently (and how I view things that come along).  It is shifting.  I am growing; becoming someone with a softer heart.

I am on a journey to being the best mom, wife, friend, stranger that I can be.  I am not sure what exactly I will write about-who knows- a whole lot of nothings just might add up to something.

So here it is, my journey to a softer heart.