Monday, March 31, 2008

We Had a F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S Time

Five frisky females*fantastic fashion finds*food, food, food*fun*family favorites*French fries*Fifth Avenue freedom*

Always admiring*analyzing*analogies*attitude adjustments*amazing acquisitions*advice*answers*

Bookstores & bakeries*babytalk*big bra*bagels*Broadway bash*Bloomingdales*

Uno*underground train dash*uplifting underwire*ubergoofiness*

Lost luggage (lame!!)*lotsa laughter*long lavatory lines*lists, lists, lists*late*lingering*lovely lunches*

Out&about*offficially over-budget*OCD*oink, oink, oink*organized Oma*on-top-o-the-world*

Up all night*unnecessary umbrellas*

Silly sisters*shopping, shopping, shopping*sad stories*sassy salespeople*swap&share*style solutions*savoring sweetness*start savin' for the sequel!!*

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Like Sands Through the Hourglass...

No time to blog today. Mom & sistas are coming tomorrow. So, today I will be:
  • losing 15 pounds
  • reorganizing all closets and drawers
  • cleaning out the fridge
  • vacuuming out the car
  • typing up 4 pages of simple instructions to be followed by family while I am in NYC
  • washing, folding and ironing clothing for 6
  • whipping up Martha Stewart-like spring supper
  • finding the perfect pair of shoes
  • training my children to perform a Sound of Music medley guest welcome number
  • shopping for ingredients for all the above

See ya tomorrow, ladies! You're worth every bit of it!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Seven Questions...Making Lemonade with Life's Lemons

What do you do when life just isn't following your masterplan?

Well, you can go hide in the basement with a box of Twinkies and some Laverne & Shirley reruns. OR you can take action, surround yourself with uplifting people, and start a hip, happenin' and very happy blog.

This is why I ADORE Mique.

Although we have never met, Mique (say "Mickey") and I made an instant connection when we realized that we share one of life's big lemons...dealing with autism in our beloved "J" boys. Finding a friend who is choosing to make lemonade instead of turning sour has been an inspiration for me. I am amazed at her energy, creativity and positive attitude. She is a ray of sunshine!

Here are her thoughts on living (even thriving!) with adversity...

1. What has been your life's biggest challenge? How has it changed you?
Over the past several years I’ve had quite a few challenges- stretching experiences for sure. I think my biggest challenge has been being able to adapt when my life doesn’t go as planned. Early on, Josh and I lost a pregnancy of twins. That was really hard. Then when Jonathan was barely two and Julia was 3 weeks old, we found out J had autism. Both situations shook me to my core. I didn’t feel like I was strong enough to handle either. It changed me in being more confident in my abilities and really understanding that there is a much bigger picture. I still struggle with this though- it’s a process.

2. When life gets you down, what are two or three things you do to pick yourself up?
Well, I have all kinds of things. Let’s see- I like to go on drives. Especially on the beach (it’s a shame that I live an hour away from the closest beach). I’m able to clear my head a little on drives. I do something creative- photography, digital stuff, sew, cook. And I also shop- which I posted about recently. I’m trying to scale down my shop therapy. I guess it all depends on what is getting me down. I feel so much better in general when I’m surrounded by my family and close friends.

3. You are one of the most creative people I know. How does creating something beautiful help you cope with the realities of life?
First, wow, thank you for the compliment (especially coming from you and knowing the family you come from). I have always enjoyed creating things. Being creative, allows me to kind of focus on something else for awhile. I usually feel better about myself and my circumstances after I’ve had a chance to get the creative juices flowing. I especially like creating stuff for other people- and I think the best way to get past something difficult in your own life is to focus on serving other people.

4. Surrounding yourself with good friends is so critical during the tough times. Who are your core people and how did you find them?
Very true- besides my family, my friends have been my biggest cheerleaders. My core people (love that term, btw) are a wide range. But I’d have to say I have one friend from each vital stage in my life that are like sisters to me.

My best friend from high school, Chrissy. She was the one in high school that everyone loved; genuine through and through. Still is.

Taryn from my BYU days. We lived through some crazy Taco Bell 2 am runs in the dorms. As well as dating dilemmas up to our weddings. She flew in from Africa to my wedding. I was with her stuck in a car during the one and only tornado of SLC while her groom waited in the temple for her on her wedding day. Even though we live on opposite coasts (and she is moving to China)! I still talk to her at least once a week. For sure a sister to me.

And in my adult life, Kristen has become that friend to me. We’ve experienced all the motherhood highs and lows. We’ve had crazy adventures like the So You Think You Can Dance finale tapings (times 2), taking hip hop classes together and now training for a half marathon.

With all these girls, I feel like I can just be me. And each of them are different from each other. They all bring something to my life. They all came right when I needed them.

5. What advice would you give to a mom whose child has recently been diagnosed with some type of disability?
Wow, this is a biggie. You know I could write on and on about this. But I think the biggest things are-

* Take time to grieve and go through your emotions.

* Learn as much as you can about the disability.

*Act on that info and be your child’s advocate.

*Always do what you (and your spouse) feel is right.

* Don’t get swayed by other peoples opinions- listen to advice, but-- ultimately-- you know what is best for your child.

* Surround yourself by uplifting people that not only love you but love your child.

* Love your child the same way you did the day before the diagnosis- s/he is still that same kiddo.

*And --for sanity’s sake- get good babysitters or friends to give you a break when needed.

6. If you were making a playlist of your favorite feel-good music, which would be your Top Three songs?
This is such a tough question. I LOVE music. And I love all types of music (except country; sorry country fans). For sure my favorite and very sentimental song, which seems SO SILLY now is The Middle by Jimmy Eat World. Also Ordinary Miracle by Sarah McLachlan from Charlotte’s Web Soundtrack. And the third would be For Good by Kristin Chenowith and Idina Menzel from the Wicked Soundtrack. Those are inspiring ones for me. But like I said, I have ALL kinds of music- everything from Sarah McLachlan to Jack Johnson and Josh Kelley with a lot of pop and hip-hop mixed in there too. And my new favorite find is Kate Walsh. Lovely voice.

7. What have been some of the silver linings in your storm clouds? What blessings have you received along with your trials?
It’s amazing how the silver lining always comes. May take some time, but there is always something good amongst the bad. It can be as simple as a call from a friend when I needed it most. A smile from a stranger. Someone asking how I’m doing and genuinely wanting to know. Or it has been as big as my J starting to talk (at 3 ½ years old).

As far as blessings amidst my trials- I’ve been blessed with an amazing support group like I already mentioned. I also have felt at peace even when everything seemed to be caving around me, which I think is a blessing. I have learned to appreciate ALL the small things. Having a special kiddo in my life has really made me take a step back and be grateful for every milestone.

I feel like our family has been able to be a little more empathetic to people that are different or that are going through tough times. Like that saying, “before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes”- I’m working hard on being less judgmental. I don’t think I would have the same perspective on life had I not been through some of the challenges.

Wow! Thanks, are one strong woman.

You MUST check out Mique's blog. Crafts, recipes, and daily inspiration. She's the best!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter Parade

Remember this?

Well, luckily, I did not take my own advice this year! And look...

Aren't they the CUTEST li'l bunnies ever?

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Dinner at Grama's

I have been remembering my grama today.

Tomorrow is Easter and we're having company for dinner. I want it to be an occasion...good food, a pretty table, happy laughter...a springtime feast to celebrate a holy day. I'm trying to do most of the work now, so I can relax and enjoy tomorrow. This means scrubbing potatoes, polishing silver and hunting for old wedding presents which can be used as serving dishes.

All this domestic busy-ness reminds me so much of Grama. Eating at her house was always an occasion. The clink of china and crystal, sparkling silverware and crisp table linens. Delicious food presented beautifully. Centerpieces and candlesticks.

Grama would greet us at the door, wearing an apron and smelling expensive. She wasn't a storybook grandmother--fat, wrinkled and jolly. Grama was slim, elegant, youthful, classy. The perfect makeup and manicured hands hid the fact that she worked like a demon. Her home was the cleanest earthly place I have ever seen. She loved to scrub. And dig in the garden. And whip up creations on her speedy sewing machine.

Grama was the hostess with the mostess. As the oldest grandchild, she always treated me like a VIP guest. Sleepovers at Grama's house meant I got my own sparkling bathroom, breakfast served on blue and white china, and a night at the Salt Palace watching the Utah Jazz with her and Grampa Jiggs. Sometimes she even let me bring a buddy and I remember being SO proud of my fun and generous grandparents. Grama was interested in all my friends and remembered their names year after year.

She was gracious and forgiving. This was a good thing. Especially the night my 4th grade friend,Tracy, and I spilled BLACK fingernail polish on her off-white(!) guest room carpet.

Grama's backyard was the setting for my summer wedding reception so many summers ago. It was beautiful and elegant. I remember that she invited me into her glorious master bathroom to freshen my hair and makeup before the guests arrived. "Oh, Gobbins! I can't believe you are all grown up. A married woman!" She gave me a hug and let the spotlight shine on me all night long.

My new husband loved coming to Grama's house too. And, after a few years, when all my girlfriends were having babies and no one knew just what to say to the barren one, Grama's house became a refuge. Grama had waited awhile for her babies, too. She knew when to talk and when to listen and how to distract me with new books or recipes or decorating ideas. Grama became my best girl-friend and confidante.

The last dinner I had at Grama's house was over ten years ago. She hosted a going-away party for Brad and I as we headed East for a new home and adventure. At the end of the night, I sensed that she was tired and, being emotionally drained myself, said a quick goodbye but promised that I would visit before we flew to our new hometown.

In the rush and hecticness of moving, I forgot my promise.

And, less than two weeks later, Grama died unexpectedly.

The funeral was lovely. People stood in line for hours and hours say goodbye and pay their respects.

Grama wasn't famous or important in any worldly way. She never ran for office or even lived in a different town than the one where she was born. She didn't have a big career or write a book. She just raised flowers and children. She wrote thank you notes. And she hosted beautiful dinners and made everyone in her presence feel special.

She taught her children, who taught their children, about Jesus and life after death and living a good life while still on earth.

And so I'll be thinking of her at my Easter dinner tomorrow.

Love you, Grama!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Role Model

In case you were wondering, there are only 6 shopping days left until Ms. Hilbie's birthday.

What? You don't know who Ms. Hilbie is? You've never heard of her?

Well, she's a bigtime celebrity at our house. Every detail of her life fascinates. We know whenever she changes her hairstyle. We know the names of everyone in her family. We know where she likes to shop and her favorite things to eat. Her name pops into the conversation at least once an hour.

She is my daughter's first grade teacher.

And she is bigger than any rock star.

"Ms. Hilbie says we're supposed to..." "Ms. Hilbie always..." "Today, Ms. Hilbie..."

"Mom, you can't do it THAT way...Ms. Hilbie does it like THIS."

Not only does Ms. Hilbie know every knowable fact about spiders, bats and chameleons, she is also married to a real-life firefighter and has an adorable six-month-old daughter. Last week, she missed a day because she had a dentist appointment and her favorite color is purple.

Ms. Hilbie reads stories, gives math tests and has a basket filled with granola bars for hungry kids who forgot to pack a snack. She helped my daughter polish up her reading skills and made her self-confidence shine.

She is better than any rock star. And I'm gonna get her a really good birthday present.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


These cookies were a staple of my childhood. Along with peanut butter and banana sandwiches, Twizzlers, Germade mush (ugh!), tuna salad on buttered toast, turkey steaks and sunflower seeds. Some foods were just always on hand.

Isn't it funny how every household has it's own sights, smells and staples?

My favorite babysitting clients introduced me to Mint Milano cookies and pretzels with Ranch dressing. A high school friend taught me how to make graham cracker peanut butter sandwiches. And my husband still is trying to convert me to the truthfulness of an over-easy egg served between two hot pancakes, covered with jam and syrup.

What are the staples that fill your pantry shelves and refrigerator bins?

Here are a few of the basics my kitchen cannot be without...

With brown sugar and cinnamon in the morning, baked into muffins for lunch or mixed into a suppertime meatloaf, it's classic all day long.

Canned tuna was the only fish I ate until I was 18 years old. So it never ceases to amaze me that SALMON is the one food all my kids can agree on. They love it! I love it! Brad grills it! It is our favorite weekend meal.

Now, if I can just get 'em to try canned tuna...

We go through a jar a week. I don't know how all the peanut allergy moms get through the day.

I really don't.

Yep. It's Yop.

We are yogurt snobs. Only Yoplait. Especially thick and creamy.

Strawberry, key lime and peach. Yum.

Mmm! Mmm! Good.

This is our favorite soup. We eat it a lot. Try it with a little bit of ketchup mixed in.

Can you believe I actually never ate a bagel as a child?

Back in the horse & buggy days, there was no such thing as a corner deli or bagel shop in my Salt Lake City suburb. I didn't get my first taste of ring-shaped, cream cheese-filled deliciousness until junior high. After that there was no turning back.

These days, my own children would die of malnutrition without bagels. And strawberry cream cheese.

The only thing that disappears faster than chocolate chips around here.

My kids think they are candy.

And, last, but not least--the breakfast of champions.

Germade mush: eat your heart out.

What's in your shopping cart?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


St. Paddy's Day brawl? Or Family Home Evening fun? our house they are one and the same.

(Please. Don't get me wrong. I love FHE and if you don't should. Just stay away from the coffee table during Freeze Tag!)

Saturday, March 15, 2008

What do you do when.... are starting to feel like this because you have been single-parenting for days

...while your husband traveled to a place where he enjoyed some of this...

...and some of this?

This is what you do.

You plan a little weekend fun.

And you invite...

the uber-Oma

the cyber Stie

your quasi firstborn, Min, pregnant with your quasi firstgrandchild(!?)

your adorable sister, Heidi (who chooses to live blog-free)...but not her adorable husband

AND ALL OTHER SISTAS AND SISTAS-IN-LAW (who still have plenty of time to change their minds and buy a cheap ticket.

That's you...Amy, Candice and Anna!)

You get a hotel room here...

You buy tickets for this...

You put aside $$$ for this...
Oh, and don't forget...
Then you will have something to keep you smiling when your husband says, "Oh, yeah. Next week..."

Friday, March 14, 2008

Short Circuits

The room crackled with electricity, volcanoes erupted and weather patterns shifted.

School Science Fair--if you can't feel chemistry here, you're just negatively charged...

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Ding! Dong! This Witch Is Dead...

I am so sick of being the Wicked Witch of the East. The Munchkins have been plotting against me and the weight of this whole house is really getting me down. Thank goodness the Wizard flies in tonight...
I'm ready to head somewhere over the rainbow.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Seven (or so) Questions...Gab Gabs

Happy Birthday to the gabblog! I never thought I could have so much fun with my computer and I never knew there were so many cool people hiding inside. Thanks to Mom, Stie, Annajo, Min and Nim for inviting me to join your exclusive cyber-club. You were right...I love it!

I am happy to announce the winners of my give-away. The lucky lady in my "family blog circle" is my cute Aunt Jolyn, AKA Mama Jo. And Katie of Boyz n the Hood won my cyber-friend drawing! Congrats, ladies. Check your mailbox in the next few days...

I wanted to post something special today and thought I'd do a "gabtalk" interview in reverse.

What would someone who has never met ME want to know? What could possibly be interesting about a suburban housewife? And, would anyone else even care?

Celia graciously agreed to play the Barbara Walters part and came up with some great questions (I knew she would!) and I had fun posting my answers.

I look soooo much better in Sepia!

Here are my blogiversary thoughts...

1. You are an inspirational writer. How do you cope with the pressure to continue to write well? Do you ever post something and think, oh no, that was terrible and then people like it? Have you ever wanted to pursue writing as a career?
Who me? I have always loved to write--journals, letters, talks for church, research papers, funny poems--but never considered myself a writer at all. I am mostly a reader. Blogging has been a fun new creative outlet for me and the first time I've written for an audience. I love getting feedback and never feel pressure because I choose the subject, the deadline and the format. I just try to write something I'd enjoy reading myself.

A few years ago, when I was struggling terrifically with my life, I really wished for a "You've-Just-Had-Twins-And-Your-Oldest-Child-Is-Autistic-And-Your-Husband-Always-Travels-And-Your-Family-Is-A-Million-Miles-Away Handbook." Maybe that is the book I'll write someday! Think it'll sell?

2. What are you most proud of as a mother? What do you wish you did better?
I am just proud to be a mother. I was told at age 25 that I would never have children. Talk about a death sentence... I wanted to curl up and die. I had to climb out of that hole and build my family my own way. I fought and prayed and struggled for each of my children. I still do.

That said, there are SO many many ways I wish I were better. I lose patience too often. I worry that I spoil them. Or that I yell too much. I feel guilt whenever they eat Happy Meals or watch cartoons. I worry that I'm missing teaching moments, that I'm stressing too much about little details that don't matter, that I'm stifling their creativity. And don't even get me started on their dental health...

3. How do you think experiencing infertility makes you different as a mom? Do you keep in touch with the birth mothers of Emily and Jake? Is it weird? When you wanted more children after them, why didn't you adopt again? Do you believe that Emily and Jake, and also the twins, were sent to you specifically or did you just get lucky? What advice do you have for those who are struggling with infertility?

I think going through infertility helps you recognize each child is a gift, not a given. Also, I am not in such a rush to have my children grow up. Infertility gave me a long-term life perspective, which (sometimes) helps me be more patient. An added bonus-- most friends my age have kids that are I learn from them and their experiences.

We do send yearly letters and photos to our birthmoms through the adoption agency and hear from them semi-regularly and it's not weird. I enjoy correspoding with these women. I met both of them at our adoption placements and can honestly say that I love them and pray for their happiness. They have given me the greatest of gifts and I hope to meet them again when my kids are grown. Hopefully, we'll be able to congratulate each other on a job well done!

We had great experience with our adoptions and had submitted paperwork for a third baby. However, we had been warned that once a couple has two children and are over 30, they are less likely to be selected. A good friend at my gym recommended her fertillity clinic and (although I swore I'd NEVER do it again) we decided to give IVF one last shot....pun intended.

We kept it a big secret--only told a very few people we were even trying. None of our family knew. When we got the positive result, we were blown away. And we had planned trips home, so we got to surprise our families in person! Then, a few weeks later we found saw TWO heartbeats! Complete shock. (Really, the subtitle of my blog should be "Be Careful What You Pray For"... because my life is all about miracles.)

The whole time I was pregnant I felt like a complete fraud. I had wanted for so long to be with child. I could not believe I had not just one, but TWO babies in there. The whole experience was surreal (unfortunately, the nausea and vomiting were not)!

I wondered if I would love biological children more than my adopted kids. But anyone who has experienced this will tell you there is no quantifying when it comes to motherlove. I do have a different love for Jake than I do for Emily and a unique love for Sam and still another tailor-made love just for Luke. Each of my children holds a different place in my heart. I suspect this is true for all moms, shared DNA or not.

My four little miracles

I have lots of advice for women struggling with infertility--don't blame yourself, take time to grieve, switch doctors if you don't like yours, stay connected with friends and family, look outside yourself for opportunities to serve and be with others, pray a lot. Mainly, listen to that inner will know if it is the right time to pursue aggressive treatment, to look into adoption or to just take a break. Hang in there. It will be ok.

4. What is it like to live far from your mom? Do you think you'll ever return to Utah? Do you have real live girlfriends, and are they LDS? Does it make a difference?

Precious time with my mom and sisters

When I moved away ten years ago, I thought we were just having a little adventure. I never expected that we would actually put down roots and settle on the East Coast. I love it here, but I do miss my family terribly. That is the whole reason I started blogging, to keep in touch and share day-to-day moments with loved ones far away. I don't know if we'll ever live out West again, but technology, thankfully, helps me feel closer to them.

I couldn't have survived without my real life friends--my church friends, gym buddies, moms with special needs kids, playgroup pals, bookclub members and sweet neighbors. They have become my family in a very real sense. They have shared recipes, baby clothes, furniture, babysitting, books, secrets, advice, hugs and tears. I wish that some of them would start blogging so we could post embarassing photos of one another, but alas...

Many of my friends are Mormon, since we spend a lot of time involved with our church activities and responsibilities. But a lot of my friends are not. I hope it doesn't make a big difference. My Jewish and Catholic friends probably think I am a little bit weird. But my LDS friends probably think I am a little bit weird. And my family definitely thinks I am a little bit weird.

The truth is, I am just a little bit weird. Thanks for liking me anyway!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Seven Questions...Keepin' It Real

If you have not yet met Celia and read her hilarious spin on life, you are completely missing out! Her blog is one of the first stops on my daily round. I've loved her from the beginning because:

  • Our husbands could be twins.
  • She is my same age (ancient among bloggers)!
  • Her writing is real and really really funny.
    1. Celia is wildly blog-popular. I think the reason she has such a following is because, aside from being a great writer and spot-on social commentator, Celia is completely comfortable in her own skin. She hates decorating! She hates dieting! She doesn't try to cover up an unsightly blemish...she takes a photo and blogs about it! Everyone can relate to Celia and everyone wants to be her friend.

      In a world full of phonies, an authentic woman is hard to find. Here are Celia's real thoughts on real life...

    1. You have a talent for seeing the fun and funny in day-to-day reality...driving your kids to school, sitting through church meetings, eating at Panera bread. Is this a conscious choice or do you just think "real" life is fun?
    A timely question. My friend, Brigitta, left a comment on one of my weekly journal posts. She said that she had spent much of the week with me but it seems much more amusing when I write about it. It's true. It was a boring week. So I guess the answer to that question is that finding the funny is a conscious choice. Blogging has really helped me have a positive attitude, though. I think all bloggers have had those moments when something crummy happens and they think, "Well, at least I can blog about it!"

    2. Why do you think women so often put on a phony front? How do you find "real" friends?
    I think people put on a phony front for a few reasons. First, maybe they don't know who they really are. Second, they are afraid that they will be known and not loved. Third, they aren't thinking, they are only doing. I can tell pretty quickly following a conversation who is going to be a "real" friend just by the things they say. It's funny, I'm wary of anyone who overshares at the beginning, but I am also bored with someone who can't talk about real life. There is a happy medium, and usually it takes a little work and a lot of trust to get there.

    3. Is your husband really your bishop? Do you find it difficult to be your real self while he leads your entire congregation?
    This is the easiest question. No, thankfully, my husband is not my bishop. He's in the bishopric. We're hoping his leadership run will soon be over for awhile, and I'm a little trunky. He hasn't sat with us in Sacrament meeting or been with us on Sunday morning since Max was seven. He's thirteen now. I'm over it and ready for some help.
    It used to make me cringe that people thought I represented my husband. I'm pretty sure no one thinks that anymore. Everyone who knows us knows that we have very different personalities. He is a rule follower and has a lot of restraint, at least in public. I'm the opposite, obviously.

    4. I love the fun relationships you seem to have with all of your sisters. They probably know the "real Celia" better than any of us. What secrets would your sisters tell us about you?
    I'm wracking my brain for some secrets. It seems like my life is an open book. Maybe they would tell you I was bossy. Perhaps they would tell you that I tend to tell "apocryphal" stories, that is, stories with embellishments. I'm sure they would tell you I wear ugly shoes. I don't know if they could tell you how much I cherish the sister relationships I have because we don't talk like that in our family.

    5. Name your real-and-true favorite...
    Color: mostly blue with a little pink and green.
    Food: Breakfast: plain Cheerios, sugar and milk.
    Lunch: sandwich from Safeway Deli called the Chicago South Sider. Crusty roll, roast beef, onions, tomatoes, lettuce with horseradish sauce.. Yum.
    Dinner: Something fancy that I can't make myself, like sushi or fish.
    Dessert: flourless chocolate cake.
    Vacation spot: My parents had a house on Kauai. Going there was idyllic and heavenly or crowded and expensive.
    Novel: Must I choose one?

    6. Who are the three women you admire most in your real life? What have you learned from them?
    I had to think hard about this. The first woman is my old best friend, Shauna. She moved to Utah last year. She taught me how to face my problems directly instead of avoiding them. The second woman is a woman from my ward growing up, Shanna Parmley. She is married to a muckety-muck high up church guy but she isn't holier than thou. She is funny and friendly and clever without being offensive. I would be remiss if I didn't mention my own mother. She taught me how to enjoy my children and that being a stay at home mom is the best job ever.

    7. As your daughters grow, what do you hope to teach them about becoming "real" women?
    Watching my daughter, Claire, who is ten, approach adolescence is one of the hardest things I've had to do so far. It triggers many of my own emotions and I really don't want to project my experience onto hers. I guess I can help her be "real" by validating her experiences.

    Thanks so much, Celia! You are a true friend...

    Warning: Groundhog Day with Celia Fae is highly addictive, with dangerous side effects.
    Do not click over unless your bladder is completely empty and you have at least an hour to spare.

    p.s. Celia is such a "real friend"--she put on her own Gabtalk interview and asked yours truly a few probing questions.
    They will be featured Monday, March 10th for my special Blogiversary Post! Tune in...

    Friday, March 7, 2008

    The Golden Shoe Award

    Under a pile of pastel eggs and a sprinkling of plastic grass, I found my all time favorite Easter book. I like this one so much I have two copies in the house--one for upstairs and one for down! It's an old book (written in the 1930's I think) and I remember loving the old-fashioned pictures and happy Easter story as a little girl.

    Now that I am reading it to my own children, I find myself identifying very much with the Little Country Bunny who gave up her dream of becoming an Easter Bunny so she could raise a family. I want to be as swift and kind and wise as she because, if you've read the book you know, she single-handedly raises 21 children, trains them to do all the housework, and be polite and obedient to boot.

    After years of motherhood, the Country Bunny is given another opportunity to become an Easter Bunny and she wins the position, thanks to the wisdom, speed and kindness she developed in her home. Her children capably run the household so she can bring Easter happiness to children all over the world, including one very sick little boy. It is a difficult job, but she climbs the highest of mountains and even earns a magical pair of tiny gold shoes! Delightful.

    On a whim the other day, I bought two inexpensive copies of this book and wrapped them up to give to two mothers I think are deserving of their own Golden Shoe Award.

    The first one is for a dear friend at church who has a houseful of little ones and a husband with a long commute. Yet she somehow manages to bring me dinner, serve others with a smile and raise a bunch of bunnies who are polite and obedient to boot!

    The other winner is my neighbor, who is leaving for China next week to bring home a 3 year old girl with a cleft palate and a broken leg. This little girl will not only be given the gift of two loving and generous parents, but six older siblings (including two from China!) and a lifetime of opportunities.

    It's nice to know that kind, swift and wise mothers aren't just living in storybooks.

    Wednesday, March 5, 2008

    Multiple Choice

    Read the following story problem, choose the best solution.

    You are alone with your four children while your husband travels on a 9-day business trip. The day he leaves: the washing machine begins making a strange clinking noise, the maintenance light in your car starts blinking, child #3 suddenly has a cough and runny nose, strong spring storms are in the five-day forecast, and your gastroenterologist recommends you not consume chocolate or carbonation for six weeks (!) as you recover from minor throat-stretching surgery.

    Which is most likely to occur?

    a. Soap suds all over the laundry room floor.
    b. An exciting date with both the pediatrician and the car dealership service department.
    c. Flooding in the basement.
    d. A late-night run to the 7-11 for large quantities of chocolate and carbonation.
    e. All of the above.

    Tuesday, March 4, 2008

    Soap Bubble Wisdom

    "Oh, wow! I almost didn't recognize you without your twins," says an acquaintance at the gym. For so long I have been the lady with the double stroller, the overflowing diaper bag, you boys and your noise. I've taken you for granted and assumed you were forever.

    But now that you don't need the diapers or the stroller, I'm beginning to realize that our moments together are as fragile and fleeting as shiny soap bubbles. And that, without you, I am unrecognizable.

    Monday, March 3, 2008


    Thanks to everyone for your celebration suggestions. My first blogiversary is a week from today. I've decided to mark it in a few fun ways...

  • Gabblog Giveaway! (Folks, please remember I do NOT craft. But I do give good presents. ) Anyone who comments on my blog in the next seven days is automatically entered in the prize drawing. I will have two prizes--one for a family member, since my family is the whole reason I started this blog--and the other for some lucky cybersister (or cyberbro...if I have any) to enjoy.

  • I have a special edition of "Gabtalk" planned for March 10. Watch for it!

  • I will put a few links at the bottom of this post for those of you who may have missed some of my favorites.

    1. Mostly, thank you for reading my blog, being my friends, composing witty comments, admitting you are related to me and saying that pictures of my children are adorable. It's been a great year!

      Click to see:

      Sunday, March 2, 2008

      Seven Questions...Spinning Straw into Gold

      All right. I know I have already posted ad nauseam about my adorable youngest sister. I just can't help it! In some ways Marta is my firstborn child. Except better. My mom and dad did all the hard work and I just get to beam with pride at all her accomplishments.

      There are a million things I love about her, but one of the best things about Min is the way she can turn something simple into something so beautiful. The way she chooses to live life so elegantly.

      Living in a small space with a law-school-student husband has not gotten Marta down. She has not put her entertaining, memory-making, gift-giving days on hold until she has the perfect Pottery Barn bungalow or the Bloomingdale's budget. Marta uses creative flair to personalize everything she touches--from baby showers to birthday presents. And she does it all without breaking the bank. Love it!

      Here are Min's thoughts on making something from nothing (or at least not much)...

      1. You have a way of working magic on a shoestring. What are your favorite cheap tricks for decorating and entertaining?

      I think the details are what matter and they take more time than they do money. I like spending extra time and effort on an invitation because it is a simple way to set the mood and get everyone excited.

      I also think party banners are super fun. I print out big letters in a fancy font, glue them on cardstock and cut out in squares, string the squares with pretty ribbon and hang the banner near the buffet table.

      I love to make trifle which looks pretty in a footed bowl or individual fancy glasses, it feeds a lot and is simple: layers of jello and whipped cream and angel food cake.

      Also fresh flowers in a small square vase can be cheap and lovely, just go with all one color to create a nice color theme.

      And when I'm in a bind, I always borrow fancy table cloths or silverware from my mother-in-law.

      Sometimes I get caught up thinking my place isn't big enough, cute enough or worthy for a party.. but really it's just fun to have an excuse to get together and chat! I have found that even if a drop-in guest comes unannounced, a pretty bowl full of M&M's sitting on your coffee table is irresistible and makes guests feel right at home. And will hopefully distract them from the dishes in your sink. (p.s. That is my rule number uno about hosting a party. No one wants to see the hostess scrubbing the dishes while everyone else plays charades. Enjoy the party while the party is going, the guests are there and the music is playing. Deal with the dishes tomorrow.)

      2. Where are your favorite (cheap) places to shop for cute gifts?

      a. TJ Maxx has the best soaps, bubble bath, bags, jewelry etc. I stock my gift shelf with goodies from there.
      b. Target. I can always find fabulous things in the dollar aisle.
      c. The Sale Table at Anthropologie or Sale Rack at J Crew
      d. Consignment Shops often have cute random things.
      e. I love giving note cards from my local Stationery Shop.
      f. My latest craze is this: buy a pound of Chocolate Covered Cinnamon Bears, pour them into a cellophane bag (be sure to taste one or two) and tie it all up with a gorgeous silk ribbon and tag. Gorgeous ribbon is important to have on hand. It can make anything look a wee more lavish.

      3. OK...It's crunch have a friend with a birthday and no time to shop. How do you pull something special out of thin air?

      a. One of my favorite things to give someone is an accordion book of photos.
      b. I often keep blank sketch books on hand, write a quote on each page and give it to someone for a journal.
      c. I like making homemade goodies for someone and including the recipe. Martha Stewart has an awesome Bath Salt Recipe that can be thrown together with simple ingredients from the pantry.
      d. I think giving someone your most favorite book, all underlined and dog-earred is a thoughtful expression. Dust it off, wrap it in delicious paper and say something like 'Since you're my favorite friend, I knew you'd like my favorite book. Relax and read in the bath like a Birthday Queen should!'

      4. What are the five craft supplies you cannot live without?

      a. My Rototrim Paper Cutter. I used to cut everything with my trusty xacto knife. Fortunately I've moved on. I am a little obsessed with making sure my paper gets cut straight.
      b. A drawer full of Ribbon and a spool of Baker's twine. I love solid silk colors, but polka dot, rickrack and argyle ribbons are oh so charming.
      c. A Bone Folder and Self Healing Mat. For a sharp and professional crease in your papers and a steady surface for writing and crafting.
      d. Hole Punch. I love my hole punch and use it every day. It's the typical, old school silver one that is sold at every grocery store in town. I find the new frilly ones over-rated.
      e. A favorite pen. Find a pen that you love to write with. (Mine is Pilot .007 fine tip. I also love the handy mini sharpies that for 99 cents can easily float in every purse.) You'll find yourself writing more often, in your journal, on your grocery list, in thank you notes. If you don't like your pen, you won't like to write. If you can't stand your handwriting, practice until you do. Your children, your lover, and your friends will always like to read things written in your own hand.

      5. Your line of journals, cards, gift-tags and other paper goodies are delightful! Where do you get your inspiration?

      I love to shop for paperie and mix and match patterns and find reasons to give handmade gifts. I find inspiration in photography, in art, in words, in the way people can find happiness in the small things. I like to think that my mini diaries celebrate the details that matter. If you don't jot them down and capture them, you lose them. I am always forgetting my most fantastic and hilarious dreams. I need to put a notebook right by my bedside, so I can re-visit them, like I do with past memories written in journals.

      6. I love the way you "recycle" found objects (like magazine pictures) to make something new and beautiful. What other ways do you like to make something old new again?

      I always save matchbooks and have them hanging up in a framed collection. They remind me of fancy special occasions and trips abroad. I like to use old maps for wrapping paper or for covering a regular cork board. I also rip out pages of antique (cheap) books for framing or collage projects. I save ticket stubs, cool postcards, business cards, and coasters that have great design elements for further design inspiration. I save beautiful invitations and party ideas and great quotes and stick them in binders for future use.

      I have created books out of newsprint and note cards out of old Vogue magazines. The possibilities are endless when you start saving things that look interesting. I save all these goods in archival linen boxes until the day comes when I want to start a project, then I dump the contents out and begin hunting for the perfect thing. I'm always happy to have saved it.

      It is a combination of creating something from the past and enjoying the passion of making stuff with my own two hands in the present and reaping the benefits from an original creation in the future.

      7. You and your husband are the epitome of romance. What are your favorite cheap dates?

      Two words: Barnes + Noble.
      I love to sit with a stack of magazines on my lap and sip cocoa and enjoy the wealth of words and fashion and ideas with quiet company. Dan usually reads ski mags or some thick history book, but I always show him what adorn my pages too. Because he always has a funny comment to go along with it. Like, 'That outfit would so not go over in real life.' or 'Don't ever buy me that.' or 'Who's ever heard of that guy?'

      I also love grabbing cheap greasy food and running to a good movie. He prefers walks together over anything else. If we simply turn off the tv, the cell phone, the computer and make dinner together, it's always a fun evening.

      Just being present in the moment is what really matters. I write him random happy emails and he gives me sweet surprising compliments on the fly.

      I always try to remember, it is better to hear a list of things I love about him rather than the weekly list of groceries I need.

      We are happy because we are the best of friends. I heard a quote that fits perfectly to what I try to keep in mind, "Love is a condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own." - Robert Heinlein

      Thanks, Marta! Wishing you much more beautiful happiness!

      And on top of all this, she writes so lyrically! Check out Marta's blog or her online shop.

      Saturday, March 1, 2008

      Father of my Children's Father

      When you are shopping for a husband it is easy to get caught up in the superficial. The shiny car. The leather jacket. The smile that makes your stomach flip flop.

      Distracting as these selling points may be, discriminating shoppers will remember to check under the hood. To look-- not just for a guy who drives a shiny car--but one who will make any car shine (...and change the oil and check the tires and remember to make the insurance payment).

      A guy who may be willing to forgo the leather coat and make do with a nylon parka for a few years. Because he knows money in the bank feels better than any bomber jacket.

      The smile, of course, must absolutely take your breath away. But it should be a gentle smile. One that appears quickly and often. A smile that is often accompanied by deep and contagious laughter.

      Well, you know, I completely scored at the Hubby Mart. Got the car-fixin', money-savin', heart-stoppin' variety.

      And how did he get that way?

      Easy. He learned it all from his dad.

      Papa with baby Luke 2004
      I have the sweetest, most gentle and generous father-in-law. He taught his son to take care of cars and bills and a wife and kids. He passed on a very cute smile and an infectious laugh. And although he is a man of few words, his life speaks volumes.
      Get well soon, Papa! We love you!
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