Tuesday, December 6, 2011


I am really excited about my latest project! I made a really neat advent calendar:

I clothespinned little envelopes to Christmas ribbon... one for each day in December. (I found an entire box of unused RSVP cards and envelopes from my wedding and decorated them with Christmas clip art, so the entire project was free.)

Here is the part that I love: Each day's card has an activity we can do as a family: Roast marshmallows, get in PJs and watch Polar Express, etc. I love that instead of "stuff" each day, we are creating Christmas memories. I have been taking a photo of each activity and will put the photo in the corresponding envelope, so next year we can look back and remember exactly what we did the year before.

Malia is so excited when she wakes up each morning to open that day's envelope and see what we get to do!
I gathered a lot of the artwork and the activity ideas from Pinterest. If you are interested in creating this, here are the links so you don't have to re-invent the wheel. For some reason Blogger isn't letting me link up tonight, so just copy and paste in your browser:

The numbers on the envelopes:


The daily activities:


Saturday, September 17, 2011


Malia never took to a pacifier, and although she sleeps with a few stuffed animals, if one were to disappear, she wouldn't even flinch. She doesn't have a "blankie," or anything like that. She uses my arm. When she is tired or upset, she comes over and rubs my arm, just between my elbow and my wrist. While this started out cute, as she gets older, it is getting less cute, and I am trying to break her of the habit. There are rare nights when she has a bad dream or can't sleep, and she doesn't wake me up, she just comes into our bed and rubs my arm till she falls back to sleep. Fortunately for me, since having children I can sleep through an explosion, so it doesn't bother me; I just wake up and she's there. If we are out shopping or running errands and she gets tired, she just touches my arm and rubs it a little bit, and I know that her shelf life has expired and she is done. It is much nicer than a screaming fit, which is Gianni's signal that it's time to go home, and everyone in Target will know it. And although Malia is one of the most self-confident kids I know, there are times that she just needs "Mommy's Arm," as she refers to it. And when she really needs it, there is no stopping her. She will grab it while I am cooking, folding laundry, or typing. I can be doing things around the house, and she is attached to me, following me around, holding on to my arm. Many times I will say, "you cannot have my arm right now," a sentence that I never thought I would say once, much less repeatedly. I have tried to shift the object of her affection to numerous other "normal" kid security objects, but it never works. There just is no substitute.
This got me to thinking about how we should be with God... always wanting in, pressing for as much "close" time as possible, accepting no substitutes. With God, like with Malia, we sometimes only go to Him when we are tired or upset, and then we demand His attention (which He lovingly gives). And it benefits us. After time with God, we are usually more relaxed and less stressed. But unlike me with Malia, He prefers that we move closer to Him more, not less. He wants us to follow after Him and be as close to Him as possible. He has all the time in the world to let us draw near to Him; it is usually us who have such "important" time constraints. I am so guilty of shoving God off my docket when I am super-busy, because I know He will always be there, but the house needs to be clean because a small group is coming over, or laundry needs to be done, or coupons need to be cut so I can get to the store. It is not fair to Him, and truthfully, it is to my disadvantage. I think that just like tithing money seems to make us more financially comfortable, even when it doesn't add up on paper, that tithing our time somehow allows us to get more done in the same amount of time. Because God's cool like that. And He will never push us away, like I do with Malia; He will always sit and let us be as close to Him as we want, for as long as we want. And THAT is a loving Father.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


I think that everyone has rational fears and irrational fears. Sometimes our irrational fears can become very real and we must walk them out to see if they materialize or if they are, in fact, irrational. Today I had to take my son to All Children’s Hospital to see an immunologist. We were referred there about a month ago, so for the past few weeks I have carried an invisible burden of wondering what is wrong with him and how serious it is. When I first heard that there was something showing up in his bloodwork pertaining to his immunity system, my mind immediately said, “cancer.” When we were referred to All Children’s, my anxiety began to climb, because I knew what kind of kids were at that hospital: really sick kids. For a month, I acted like I was OK with the situation, and I acted the part of the faith-full mom who was believing that there would be nothing wrong with her baby, when inside I was a petrified mess, playing out every “what if” in my mind. You see, one of my irrational fears is that God is going to realize that I was the girl who wasn’t supposed to have kids, that some cosmic mistake had been made, and He’d decide to take them back. I have an awful fear that something horrible will happen to my kids and I will have to figure out how to exist without them. And I can’t even wrap my brain around how that would play out. So when we entered the cheery halls of All Children’s this morning, I saw some sick kids. Really sick. Bald-from-chemo sick. And I pushed my son in his stroller down to the immunologist, wondering if I was about to find out that my baby boy was as sick as these other kids.
As it turns out, Gianni is not that sick, and although they aren’t yet sure exactly what is going on, no one thinks that it is anything that can’t be easily fixed, so my invisible weight has been lifted and I feel lighter. But as the day has gone on, I cannot help but picture those sick kids. The journey that these families are on is, to me, one of the longest, most difficult journeys there is. Parents simply aren’t supposed to outlive their kids. They should never have to pack a nursery up, get rid of car seats and high chairs that are no longer needed, or have to pick out the last outfit their child will ever wear. Is just isn’t fair.
So in this month that I have had to walk out my irrational fear, I’ve treasured moments, not knowing if they were numbered. I’ve let the house get a little messier, and I’ve cuddled a little longer. I’ve played a little more and yelled a little less. I’ve let dirty laundry wait while chubby little fingers tickled me for as long as they wanted to. And perhaps this is really how life is supposed to be lived.
Only the perfectionist in me cringes at the thought of leaving dirty dishes in the sink while my kids and I make a fort with blankets. And the realist in me knows that there is no laundry elf, and the longer I let it go, the longer it will take me to catch up, and it is inevitable that I will have to catch up. And the pessimist in me says that if I think I’m supposed to do nothing but play and enjoy my kids all day every day, I’m living in some sort of fairy land, because chores need to get done and people need to be fed. But perhaps there is a fine balance somewhere in between a scheduled day full of chores and errands, and weeks and weeks of dress-up and picnics. Perhaps somewhere in between loads of laundry I can stop long enough to enjoy the closest thing to pure happiness on this side of heaven. Because I’m pretty sure that the parents of those sick kids aren’t too worried about how clean and organized their closets are, or how high up the corporate ladder they have climbed. I’m guessing that they’re trying to squeeze the most out of every single moment that they have with their kids, and taking a million pictures, and jotting down every detail so they don’t forget how their child’s face lit up when a favorite song came on, or how sweet he smelled when he got out of the tub. It’s not fair that one day those memories are all they will have, and that makes me even more grateful for what I have right now: a daily reminder of the fact that God loved me enough to allow me to wake up each day with two living, breathing miracles in my house. And somewhere in between making beds and making mud pies, I will treasure moments. I will take pictures. I will jot down details. And I will remember to be very, very grateful.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Cat Treats

My son is generally a happy boy. As long as his diaper is dry, his belly is full, and he's had his nap, he's pretty easy to please. However, when he gets his mind set on something, he won't easily back down until he gets what he wants. Stubborn doesn't even begin to describe him. He can throw a fit to rival any other toddler's, and he has no shame. He will throw a fit in the quietest of public settings without thinking twice.

The other day, he got hungry, and he opened the pantry to look for a snack. He found a bag of cat treats and decided that this was what he wanted. He handed me the cat treats and said, "Eat." I said, "Gianni, these are for the cats; these are not for little boys." He threw himself on the floor and kicked and screamed, "EAT! EAT!" I tried to reason with him. I showed him the picture of the cat on the package. I tried to give him cheese crackers instead. I offered him a banana. I offered him $100. He would have none of it. He wanted the cat treats. The only thing I could do to maintain the shred of sanity I have left was walk away and let him cry.

I got to thinking about how often I say, "Yes," "No," or "Not now," in any given day.

"Mommy, may I have some juice?"

"Mommy, can I drive the car?"

"Mommy, can we go to the park?"
"Not now."

And that's all before my first cup of coffee in the morning.

I answer the way I do based on what is best for my children and what works with our schedule. Some answers are easier than others. And I'm not always sure that I'm right.

God, the perfect Father, does the same with us. We ask Him things, convinced that this is really what we want, and He says, "No." To Him who sees the big picture, our question may seem as ludicrous as a child asking for cat treats, but to us, we are convinced that this is what is best for us.
We are convinced that we should have a certain job, a certain salary, a certain house, a certain number of kids, a certain spouse.
Sometimes God says, "No."
Sometimes God says, "Yes."
Sometimes God says, "Not now."
And in His case, Father always knows best. Although it is difficult for us to hear His answer sometimes, we must trust that he has our best interest at heart, for He is the perfect parent.

As a parent, my patience has a shelf life. After a certain number of questions, I snap. In contrast, God's patience with me is not an exhaustable resource. He listens to every prayer and is so patient with me as I continue asking for cat treats. Little do I know that He has a fine meal waiting for me instead.