Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Worth Posting Since I Found Even My Dreams Were Disrupted by Current Uproar

Dear Christianity (that includes you Christian right),

Let's just take some time to focus and remember that Jesus' primary message was one of unconditional love.  He didn't have any asterisks in his message.  He didn't exclude anyone based on their sexuality for example. Jesus made a point of including everyone.  Aren't there enough parables and references to this powerful all encompassing love?
          Jesus seemed to focus most of his negative energy on his religion's hypocritical leaders.  I think there are a few stories in the Bible about Jesus getting frustrated with priests that are rule driven to the point of not being helpful.  I don't know maybe he told a tale or two about getting angry in the temple. The story of the Good Samaritan might be a good story to reflect on as well.

How about we turn some of our focus and attention on some truly Christian individuals and companies?  You know companies that show unconditional love for all of their brothers and sisters, not just the straight ones.

Personally I'd feel more comfortable knowing my children were
 growing up in a world without those ugly asterisks.  As a parent, I'd like to pave a way for my little ones within a church that was truly teaching how to love.  Unconditional Love is just that- unconditional.

A Parent
          "Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples."
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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Prayer Board

Last fall my church had a program called Serve Strong in which we were given several challenges to serve.  As part of the amazing preschool curriculum it was suggested to create a prayer board in which we could post pictures of images that we were covering in prayer and hang it in a central location in our home.  I loved this idea to help my boys remember the people and things we are praying for every day.

This concrete visual reminder has had an incredible impact on our lives.  My Uncle Fred was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and fought it for almost five years.  He and his family lived in Australia (along with the rest of my Dad's side) and my boys haven't made the trek down under yet.  Although my oldest had never met my Uncle Fred, because his picture was on the prayer board he became a very real person to my son.  My son constantly reminded us to pray for him.  He even reminded my Dad to pray for him at the large family Thanksgiving dinner.  Month after month my son prayed so earnestly for my uncle, that it often brought me to tears.

When my uncle did pass away a few months ago, it was easier to tackle questions about heaven because we had been praying for my uncle for so long.  Just to share the true impact the prayer board had on my son, during a discussion about my uncle, my son paused and said "Now that Uncle Fred is in heaven someone should name a baby after him."  I agreed and smiled to myself because my uncle was actually Greek and had three boys.  There is the possibility that he will have three first born grandsons named after him.  After his passing we also learned that Fred is actually his Aussie nickname.  The prayer board made it possible for my son to really get to know and care for someone that he had never met who lived thousands of miles away.

This visual reminder helped keep our Christmas intentions at the forefront of our minds too.  I would like to think it kept some of our wants and "gimmes" at bay as a result.  

This board has been helpful to me as well.  I included a spot where I can write down all of our intentions.  I try to change the board each month which also gives me a chance to reflect on which intentions will be repeated and which prayers have found their answers.  I always ask the boys what we should which keeps me tuned into what is on their spiritual radar.  Since it is on the wall in the kitchen we always have a visual grace at hand for each meal.

I made the prayer board using a cookie sheet, some decorative clips (any office supply clips would work), and ribbon.  I change up the paper background, pictures, ribbon and magnets depending on the season or month and our intentions.  You could definitely paint the cooksheet to spice it up.  I know that Hallmark sells fancy metal boards that you could use but I opted for a cheaper route.  I do love the seasonal magnets they sell though!

So what is on the prayer board this month?
I volunteered this past Saturday evening for a couple hours when our church hosted the SOS Homeless Shelter and the experience continues to weigh heavily on my heart.  I spent some time playing with a four year old brother and three year old sister.  They were beautiful children with wonderful vocabularies and boatloads of energy.  My heart broke for their mother who was growing more and more agitated when it was ten thirty at night and she still couldn't settle them down and get them to sleep.  I couldn't help but imagine myself in the same situation.  How frustrated I would be with people cleaning out the adjacent tarped section of the family room or the eleven year old that kept turning on the bright overhead florescent lights.  So many things were out of her control and directly impacting her children's lives.  
There were also two pregnant women that made my heart ache, knowing how the nesting instinct would be kicking in yet they are in such a hopeless place for nesting.  How can you raise your child without a home?

It is also true that there would be no way to tell that the assembled group of people were homeless.  They looked exactly like anyone else.  How close we are to being in their shoes is something I often forget.  The group was largely women and children too.  I had a brief discussion with one gentleman about how different our church may seem to people but why I love it.  I learned that four of the volunteers I met worked every night of the week and the directors actually take the week off of work in order to run the program for the week!  I was humbled beyond belief by everyone I encountered.  The man I had the discussion with also chided me for showing up on the last night and told me to work again in January.  One volunteer even used the expression "break yourself open and pour yourself out."  God was at work that evening.  I pray that he continues to work on me and more importantly that he can help the people I had the privilege to meet.  I pray their housing and work situations improve drastically. They will stay on the board and in our hearts along with our other intentions.

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Happy 4th of July - Patriotic Muffin Tin Monday!

Admittedly I could have been  more creative for this holiday lunch but as so often happens around here I was a bit pressed for time and hungry children = cranky lunch, so here is the best I could do under the circumstances.  To help celebrate the fourth we used red, white and blue latex cupcake holders, salami cut into stars, star (and space ship) gold fish and strips made of string cheese and red peppers.  The big hit was the star shaped salami.  The boys loved it!  It really is the little things in life that bring about the sparkle. We also decided that making little sandwiches out of the pita, hummus and red peppers was really yummy.

 For dessert I filled cake cones with whip cream and strawberries.  To my great surprise Little Brother hated the whip cream on his strawberries and demanded washed off strawberries instead.  Big Brother in turn decided to just eat the whip cream.  He is sticking firmly to the notion that he only likes strawberries that we have hand picked.  I will consider the actual lunch a success that they didn't go crazy over the dessert.

If I get good at this muffin tin thing I will cut my cucs and bread in star shapes too.  

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Every Child is Unique and Potty Training Proves It

Big Brother extolling the merits of big boy pants.  Little Brother looking super cute in them.  Gerber trainers reinforced with extra cotton and  a tie dye PUL section = homemade training pants that really work.

It is quite special to have two boys because it helps to illustrate the differences between siblings.  From day one, minute one, they were such distinctly different little creatures- looks, personality, temperament, build, you name it.  I have my curly brown haired, brown eyed boy and my straight blonde blonde boy with blue eyes.   I think the difference is also very apparent when addressing things like potty training.  Since they are so different in every way it makes it easier to know that younger brother may just be a bit more of a challenge when it comes to potty training.
My oldest has a bladder of steel so potty training was effortless.  Seriously.  When he was two and half my husband was changing a particularly nasty diaper and was annoyed that there were no clean diapers in the boys' room.  He turned to my son, asked if he'd like to start wearing his big boy underwear, my son said yes and the rest was history.
Now that is the abbreviated story.  We did spend a decent amount of time hyping the merits of big boy pants.  We had a couple of potty books and had practiced going potty on the little potty, so it wasn't unfamiliar territory but when he made the choice we never looked back.  He never had set backs or crazy accidents.  He immediately slept through the night without a wet bed.  Again, the kid has to be reminded if he starts to get a bit agitated that maybe it is because he hasn't peed in eighteen hours so he is an unusual case.
Younger brother is two and half and I don't quite see the same thing happening. He is running around in training pants right this minute but I am keeping my hopes in check.  I recognize that his bladder is not like his brother's steel trap.  I also don't want to push it.
Every friend that pushed the potty training had disastrous effects.  There were so many set backs to their adventure- especially those that followed that three day force feed your kid candy and don't leave the house program.  Sorry, that is just my perspective.  EC may be a very different and a more natural progression so I'll exclude the two people that are following that "movement."
Potty training and/or potty waiting is for me another opportunity to celebrate the fact that my kids are not cookie cutters of each other or of my husband and me for that matter. They both have their own lives to live and their own time lines.
Being a somewhat anxious person, I am also proud that I have learned to give them some space with these milestones.  I guess because I am so baby crazy I really haven't pushed any developmental markers.  I let them sit, walk, and talk when they were ready because no amount of fretting would have changed those outcomes.  This revelation has not worked for so many other areas of my life that I can not control yet continue to perseverate over so allow me some bragging rights, please.
Recently I have noticed a few mothers get so anxious about potty training that it makes me sad for them.  I worry that they will have issues if they turn it into a battle of wills.  My first was so easy but he is such a different person from his younger brother that it isn't a surprise.  It also isn't a strike against my little guy that he will with out a doubt train at an older age either.  He is just a different person.
He can't stand to have bunched up socks in his shoes but he is completely unfazed by sitting in a wet diaper.  I also know that he'll eventually wear the big boy pants full time, so I won't fret until, say, after he is four.
Having said all of that he does look super cute in his homemade training pants!  I also wouldn't mind a break from diapers but hey, it is a journey.
And as a perfect post script before I finished editing this I noticed the kid had wet his training pants.  "Hey buddy, did you go pee pee?"  
"I think so, look at the front of your training pants.  They are wet."
"No they aren't."
And so it goes. Pin It Now!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

When Pressed for Time - Left Overs!

So the last few weeks have been a bit crazy and we are still trying to establish a summer routine.  The boys were so exhausted yesterday that they fell asleep on the way home from a playdate and didn't eat lunch until four o'clock!  This insane development derailed my Muffin Tin Monday pledge.  So here is a day late post with an even older lunch!  The following lunch just shows that left overs get a big facelift when stuck in a muffin tin!  This lunch is classic luncheon fair- city chicken, mostaccioli, salad, veggies, and even a piece of pie.  The only item not sampled was the potatoes.  I may be the only Mommy here in the states whose kids refuse to eat potatoes.  I have no idea where the aversion stems from.  I keep serving them although I am thankful that my boys aren't big on things like french fries.

I can't wait for next weeks Patriotic lunch theme!  (I was always fortunate growing up that both the U.S. and Australia had similar flag colors.  My boys would just need to add a little green for their Italian heritage from their Daddy to be totally equitable.)   I'm not sure what I am going to do theme wise but I have a feeling that I can employ blueberries and strawberries some how.

I am also slowing adding to my collection of items for muffin tin meals.  My new find that gets the boys totally engaged in eating? Tooth picks!  It is the little things in life isn't it? Pin It Now!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Mighty Monster Trucks

One of the best things about being a mommy is falling in love with all of your kids' wild and wonderful obsessions.  My sweet four year old is all about Monster Trucks right now.  We think it originated from a segment of Mater's Tall Tales and from watching Mighty Machines.  It gave me a little pause that he was outgrowing a sweet and innocent Thomas the Train phase for one that seems a bit more brutish and not terribly bourgie but I've learned to get all into the monster truck madness.  The History Channel's documentary on monster trucks also helped convert me to being a fan.

In an attempt to be creative and pretending to save money I created some of my own monster truck items for his birthday party.  I am particularly taken with my template for the invites, paper products and thank you cards.  Here is my handy work:

We also turned it into a few t-shirts for the family the day of the party.  If I was super smart and rich, I would have made some for the guests.

The true feat was creating the hot pink monster truck pinata.  My son was instrumental in the color choice and painting.  Despite my efforts to make it easy to open, the under five crowd did struggle to break it open.  We filled it with small monster truck toys, pencils, stickers, tattoos and trinkets but I did break down and fill it with candy too. My son insisted that candy was absolutely necessary.
I also owe a great big thank you to our neighborhood Tim Horton's staff for making a special batch of chocolate glazed doughnuts for us the day before so we could finish off our monster truck cake.  I would say it isn't my prettiest cake but the taste of my buttercream/cream cheese icing is getting pretty yummy.

I absolutely love playing with all of these ideas and creating things for my boys.  It warms my heart to put time and effort into creating memories however silly it may seem to someone else.  My mom did the same thing for me growing up so it seems only natural.  
Plus look at the pay off:
Yeah, I can handle monster trucks.  You bet.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

New Monday Routine- Muffin Tin Mondays

For the last few months the boys and I have been trying out a fun lunch time routine on Mondays called Muffin Tin Mondays.  I found a few blogs a while ago that post and link their muffin tin meals spearheaded by the website Muffin Tin Mom: Muffin Tin Mondays.
 There are some amazing participants that really go all out with their lunch time presentations. (We found one that was a pirate theme that we so want to try!)  I am not that creative -yet, but the boys and I enjoy our Monday meals.
I am a huge fan of the program for many reasons.  I have fairly picky eaters so using the muffin tins turns trying new things into a game.  The rules for MTM include tasting each section.  You have to try each section before you are done or before you get seconds on a favorite section.  This actually works.  They will at least try each section.  Which is all a Mommy really cares about at meal time- trying new foods, aquiring new tastes and being open about new culinary experiences- right?
This process also helps us think about different types of foods and ensures that we are thinking about how good meals come in rainbow colors.  Trying to ensure that my kids get the required servings of fruits and veggies a day takes some work on some days but seems effortless for lunch on Mondays.  I also love this process because I manage to use leftovers without drawing attention to the fact that I am using left overs!  A true testament to the merits of this lunch time routine is that my kids actually ask to eat at home if I ever suggest stopping for a quick (and shameful) fastfood lunch.  They insist they prefer "slow food."  It warms a Mommy's heart.  
This was a red and white meal.  We had buttered star noodles with carrots and corn, quesadilla strips with salami and munster, a piece of left over fish stick, watermelon and strawberries.  Plus a few of our favorite snack- gold fish.
At some point I would love to get all fancy with cup cake holders and cookie cutter sandwiches but right now this is where we are in our journey.

We get a bit dip obsessed around here but the veggies do get consumed no matter what Daddy says about it.
I guess this is a good example of using up left overs.  This meal included  pulled pork sliders,  quinoa salad, melon and left over birthday cake.  Happy fourth Moo Moo.
 Dare I pledge to post our Monday meals each Monday?  Here is my pledge. Pin It Now!

Bride and Groom Aprons

Here is an unusual wedding gift that I created for my youngest sister's Trousseau Tea.  I made her and her fiance wedding day aprons.  When she first explained that she was going to have barbecue fair for her wedding I joked that I would make her and her fiance bibs.  After some careful thought and consideration, I deemed bibs far to impractical-- when would they ever wear a bib again?  So I changed it up and made them aprons.  I thought that they might actually use aprons again, as they both like to cook. To my delight they actually used the aprons during their wedding reception because they opted to bar tend  to greet their guests instead of having a receiving line.  This was just one of the many unique things they did for their celebration.

 For her apron I used a store bought white canvas apron and added my own embellishments.  I used netting that I had left over from some packaging, ribbons and fake pearls.  I made a net overlay skirt to give it a bridal dress feel.

 For the groom's apron, again I used a store bought black apron and attached a baby boys white button down shirt and boys black suit jacket that I bought second hand.  I cut down both articles of clothing to fit the bib front of the apron.  I then had to make a black bow tie.  I made this from lining from the suit jacket.  The most time consuming aspect of the project was cutting out the lining and hiding my stitches.

I hope they have the opportunity to wear their aprons again and in doing so have wonderful memories of their amazing wedding.

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Sunday, June 17, 2012

Pinterest Challenge Continues

Okay, I have had a rather insane two weeks since I last posted.  On the trip back from my little sister's medical school graduation my parents had a horrendous car accident.  Their injuries were minor considering how bad the accident was and the complete destruction of their car.  Although they were injured enough to require some surgery and supervision so they spent the week at our little shoebox.  I tried to nurse them as gently as I could but I guess we live a much more rigid and structured life than my parents could handle.   So they demanded independence, and are attempting to recoup at home.  My other sister spent the night with them and we delivered their lunch, so it isn't complete independence but we'll see.  Personally I think they are insane for going home.  My Mom can't walk and my Dad can't use his right hand. There are steps leading to each of their home's bathrooms but if Mom prefers using a portable potty and my Dad doesn't mind changing it- go for it parents.  If that is better than me harping on you about putting your foot up and taking your medication.  How could I dare stop you?

None of this has anything to do with my Pinterest challenge so forgive the digression.  Just a little venting after a very challenging couple of days.  Okay, I'm done.

I hope to have some cute father's day project posted soon as we will be celebrating with the grandfathers' a week late due to the accident.  For Daddy we framed an art project he helped create and both Poppy and Daddy got ties that were fabric painted at a church festival a few weeks ago.  So poor Daddy doesn't have to wait a week he did get a few gifts (and his own bed back).  We'll see if he is brave enough to wear the tie to work!

Since I didn't put together a cool Pinterst father's day project, what could I use for my challenge this week?  Well to help with our summer activities I did find a great pin about free Montessori printables!  
So far I have printed the daily routine chart, puzzles for matching lower and upper case letters and cards on the body parts.  I also signed up for the email because the site looks great.  My oldest attends a Montesorri preschool,and the youngest will start in the fall, so this was a no brainer. I just need to laminate these suckers so we can start getting good use out of them. I am super excited.

Now when will I ever get up the nerve to test out the freezer meals I keep pining?

I wish everyone a wonderful Father's Day and some quality time with your loved ones.  I am ever so thankful that I am venting my frustration about how silly my parents act rather than having to pour my heart out over their loss.  Give your family some extra loving and take good care of yourselves.  Life is precious.

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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Putting My Pinterest Pins to Use

About a month ago I decided that I needed to make good use of my Pinterest surfing to ensure that I didn't go overboard with my surfing or collecting.  Two dear friends had commented that their new hobby had become pinning not actually doing any of the crafty things that they were pining.  This scared me.  So I decided to put myself to the test.
The deal is that I can not go on Pinterest more than once a week.  I also can not return unless I actual do one of my acquired pins.  I should add that in most situations I am pinning things that I can make relatively cheaply, most often using things I already own.  It wouldn't fly if every project required making purchases.  The project has really worked.  I've made two recipes (pretty good as I am a novice foodie), numerous kid art and educational projects, a new hair style and several sewing projects.

I have now challenged myself to post here about said pins.  I hope that I can not only develop pinning projects but also a reporting habit.  Pinterest is such a great source of material.  I can't believe all of the great things that I have found.

Today the boys and I made a variation of :

I say a variation because I only had gel food coloring and no droppers so I was forced to dye the salt rather than have the boys drop the food coloring on to the salt to create the colors.  I definitly need to invest in some eye droppers.  This is the third project I had to modify because I don't currently own any.  The sad thing is thinking about all of those baby pain relief bottles I got rid of with out a second thought. I digress.
I ended up placing the salt into Dixie cups because I thought the boys would enjoy pouring and spilling the salt. Both boys enjoyed dripping glue on their paper, pouring the salt and starting the process over and over again. It was a great project because they were able to do much of it on their own. I will admit that I helped with the final glue design but this was after three sheets of their own making. You may find from my pictures that my youngest lost patience after twenty-five minutes and did make a bit of a mess. I was thrilled he made it to the twenty-five minute mark.  I generally brace myself for very short production times.  There is usually an inverse ratio of how much effort I put into setting up a project versus how much time they actually spend on it.  This project was highly successful.  They worked longer to complete it then I spent making it.  Although little brother did make a mess, I am fortunate that big brother likes helping with the dust buster! Here is our results:
Their first attempt included nice neat piles of salt.

Subsequent pictures were messier but still engaging.

Here is the final project for little brother and his mess!

I am also quite proud of my first Modge Podge project for Mother's Day that I will also include in this post.  I recreated this fantastic project:


Here are my final projects.  (I actually made an extra pot for myself.  A lesson learned from coveting projects I made for the grandmothers in the past- always make one for yourself.  The other lesson I learned?  I totally love Modge Podge!

Here are the pots drying in the mud room.

Here are three of the pots after plants were added.  Big brother picked out different plants for each person.

There are so many other projects that I have tried and enjoyed but I'll save them for another day.  I need a little practice with embedding and cutting and pasting.  Needless to say forcing myself to actually use the projects I see on Pinterest has really been an enjoyable motivator. I don't have to feel guilty every time I hop around in Pinterest.  I also don't have to look at my dear friend R's amazing ideas for play date crafts and feel completely jealous.  I am wracking up the fun and experiences too.

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Tuesday, April 3, 2012


My paternal grandmother, my Nana, was an amazing seamstress.  She made her own gorgeous wedding gown and gowns for each of my aunts.  She would tell stories about how she was hired by her shop to snoop out designers new designs and sketch them so that her store could replicate them.  I try to picture her in her twenties, glasses sliding down her nose as she quickly and covertly sketched.  What devious angle for such an angelic grandmother! 
During my life time she continued to make beautiful designs.  She made my brother a knight suit complete with a metallic knit chain mail that was amazing.  I had a matching princess outfit that I wore long past Halloween and until it was just about rags and could no longer fit me.  She also made my communion dress.  In addition to actual creations, she taught my mother, her daughter in law some helpful sewing lessons. 
My mother in turn made countless Halloween and theatrical costumes for me and my siblings over the years.  A set of dinosaurs that all of us kids wore and have now passed on to our kids is a classic.  One year she made a fully tailored sports jacket for me because I was in a summer production.  I have no idea how her sewing such a complicated piece saved time or money but I think she loved every button hole challenge.  The hours she must have put into making that thing!  She made my formals, my prom dress from a recycled vintage dress and all of my sisters and my graduation dresses.  This is not the full catalog of her creations but it at least gives you some sort of idea.
This tradition, of making something out of nothing with our own hands is a wonderful tradition that I am so thankful I acquired.  I remember at a very young age cutting and sewing with my kiddie sewing machine.  When I upgraded to my mother’s machine she would patiently rethread the needle and the bobbin every time I screeched for her to rescue me.  I still struggle if I am ever forced to use her machine.  I never took any classes to learn to sew.  I just watched my mother and struggled to figure things out on my own.  Following a pattern always seemed like a daunting task, somehow harder than making a pattern up on my own?  As I grow older I am slowly learning to follow patterns, read the instruction manual of my machine and figure things out as I go along. 
I am now starting to build my little list of things I have made for my own children.  I feel absolutely motherly making my son’s Halloween costumes.  With mom’s help I have made a few quilts for dear friends when they have kids and started a tradition of making a little library bag for friends’ babies on their first birthdays.  It is an easy yet special gift to give especially when people state that they don’t want gifts on the invite but everyone brings a gift anyway. 
I whipped together one this afternoon using scraps of material I had stashed in my sewing box.  It was fun to quickly and simply sew the bag using left over pieces.  The bulk of the bag was from material I used to make runners for my youngest baptism.  Other pieces helped put together a gift for my neice.  I know that the background and history of the material will be lost on its new owner but it delights me just to know.
When I sew something it is a culmination of so many things.  It is the beauty and design of my Nana.  It is sitting with her in front of her giant industrial machine.  That huge machine with its fast and powerful needle saw her through so many projects and so many years.  It is watching those long elegant fingers and my father’s eyes through her thick lenses. 
It is also the hard work and ingenuity of my mother, the countless memories I have of her working late into the night.  It is those countless nights that I would see a pile of material in front of her machine when I went to bed turn into a finished product when I awoke the next day.  All of these things get stitched into the pieces I now make. 
With these memories each of my stitches slowly over time has become straighter and steadier.  I think about the stories both women shared with me about sewing as I pull out crooked stitches or am forced to start again.  I am so proud of my ability to fix my own machine.  Pleased with each new skill I acquire and each project I finish.
I hope that I have the opportunity to share this passion with my munchkins one day.  If not, I hope they at least let me continue to sew for them and for their children.  
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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Get Out of the Boat

My pledge today is to get out of the boat.  I need to stop being afraid.  I am fully capable of submitting my work for production and publication.  I am fully capable of writing as a career option, versus dreaming and pining for it.  If I would like to create and do more.  I just have to do it.  I have to stop fearing it.  To quote Jeff and Deborah Jay "Things have a way of falling into place if you keep moving forward."
Today I move forward.  Today I leap. Pin It Now!