Friday, November 25, 2011


"What's the use of a book," thought Alice, "without any pictures or conversations?" 

The Holidays are a great opportunity to sit back and silently observe the great wonders of life. I find myself leaning back in my chair, clasping my hands together and watching closely at the incredible moments that have molded me into the person I am. My grandma, as she scoops Kade up and showers him with adoration. My little brother, determined to maneuver through the wall of dining room chairs to me, to give me a hug and call me "Jecka." The warmth, safety and comfort that is my mother. The way my family can sit together, laughing and openly expressing all the things in this life we are so thankful for. There are places, families, I dare not imagine, who do not get together on the Holidays. There are wounded hearts who argue bitterly; people who dread having to tolerate each other for nay an hour. My family, I imagine, is tied tightly with a bright red ribbon. The warmth of the love we have for one another seems radiate from the dining room candles, warming the whole house, wafting up the stairs and out the windows. The Holiday seemed as any Sunday, surrounded by the laughter and love that my family projects for one another on any given day. I can't express how grateful I am.

I was lucky enough to attend three different Thanksgiving dinners. Each one very different, and each one very special to my heart. The first, a close-knit, very personal affair; football on the television, homemade cranberry sauce (incredible, thanks Quinn!) and sitting cross legged on the couch with a hot plate balanced on my knee. The second, the dinner aforementioned: in the familiar and comforting home of my "gramma." And the third, with my Dad's family. The cousins crowded in the back room, catching up, stuffing ourselves with more pistachio pudding than should be legal, feeding our toddlers spoonfuls of whipping cream.  There was an abundance of babies, as our family is growing. A new generation.

As usual, the theme is a go-with-the-flow, cup half freakin' full, life is beautiful type of deal. 

Let me be real for a minute. I worked a grave yard shift the night before Thanksgiving, went to three dinners and returned to work Thanksgiving night for yet another graveyard- running on no sleep and in the midst of a turkey coma. It was exhausting.  Please assume that amongst all the laughter, love, warmth and happiness that I describe in each post, there is also a cranky baby. There is a small argument, a temper tantrum, a spilled drink, burnt muffins. Life is full of these things, but the point is to move past them. The point in all of this is to focus instead on the happiness and forget the spilled milk. The point is to take life one moment at a time, enjoy it to its fullest, drink up the happiness in two big gulps, leave the unhappy feelings on your plate and move on to the next moment, ready for anything.

In the midst of the Holiday excitement, I got home and realized I hadn't taken one single picture of the days festivities. I could have kicked myself but instead, I pat myself on the back. Yes, because instead of trying to capture every moment, repeating "Kade! Kade! Kade!" and using up most of my time trying to capture a photo of Kade eating turkey, playing with his cousins, kissing his daddy, I lived in the moment. No, I relished in the moment. 

And damn, it felt good. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Holiday Season Bucket List

If only there was a reasonable explanation for my absence from the blogging world but unfortunately, I can't think of a one. I can think of excuses: I've been sick, I don't have my camera memory card, I haven't had the time, Kade has been clingy and cranky.. But none of these are good excuses. A blog can be written with no pictures, a blog can be written through the sniffles, with a baby in your lap. Here goes.


Old Father Winter checked in at 3am and unpacked in the darkness of the deepest night. Upon morning, I was shocked to find trees bare, ice on overpasses and a heavy sky. This is the kind of sky that pushes the very breath from my chest. Perhaps, winter moved in slowly and I wasn't paying attention. It's very possible that while I was focused on my baby and the amazing way in which he's growing, learning, loving that I didn't notice as winter slowly moving in his things. But its certain that its here.

Winter is for snowmen, sweets, turning up the thermostat, slippers, cinnamon coffee, fleece sheets, an extra quilt on the bed. In Utah, specifically, winter is ski season. Winter is trips to Christmas Village, bundled up and staring into small boxes displaying the designers interpretation of the magic of the holidays. All of this is good; So why do I have such a difficult time with winter? Winter leaves me chapped, cold, cranky and stressed to the max. On especially cold days, you can find me huddled over a heater vent with three pairs of socks on and a box of tissues. My nose is raw, my lips are raw, my skin is red and dry. This is reality.

This year, I'm determined to experience winter in a different way. It's been over ten years since I've built a snow man. I've never been skiing and I've lived in Utah my entire life. I don't own a pair of slippers. I see a serious problem here.

Behold, the Winter Bucket List: 

Go sledding.
Have a snowball fight.
Take time to choose meaningful gifts for my loved ones.
Watch A Christmas Story, more than once.
Kiss under the mistletoe.
Build a snowman family.
Roll in the snow before jumping in a hot tub.
Build a bonfire.
Read a classic novel.
Take five naps in one day.
Eat a bigger breakfast than dinner.
Build a fort with blankets and couch pillows and read Christmas stories with a flashlight.
Go caroling.
Learn about a holiday I haven’t celebrated.
Build a jump out of snow and go off it in a sled.
Complete a jigsaw puzzle.
Call someone I haven’t talked to in a while.
Roast marshmallows in a fireplace.
Wear a bad holiday sweater.
Host a party.
Join the countdown to the New Year.
Make dinner for someone you care about — whether you can cook or not.
 Make sock puppets and put on a puppet show.
 Bundle my baby up and take him to Christmas Village. 
Let Kade stay up extra late eating cookies and waiting for Santa. 
Go to a concert- you know, the kinds where elementary students sing carols off tune?  That kind.
See the Nutcracker.

Bring on the Aquaphor, sunscreen and warm socks. This holiday season will be unlike any other. 

Kade and Mommy made these great leaves to hang in our window for thanksgiving! We used coffee filters and Crayola washable paint, cut the filters into leaf shapes and painted away. I love the way the paint bled together and they look so cheerful hanging in our big windows! 



Have yourself a happy End Of The Week. 


Do you have a list of things you'd like to do this winter? Please, share!!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Praise and Thanks

A few nights ago, my little family sat in a booth at Daddy's work and gorged ourselves on chicken nuggets, soggy french fries and the calmness of a cold night spent in a warm place. It's always interesting to people watch at a fast food joint, and right in the middle of the dinner rush, there was a hustle and bustle of families with their kids fighting over kids meal toys and standing up in their seats. The parents were frazzled, mostly with looks of I should have just cooked tonight.. on their faces as yet another kiddy sized milk spills across the table. This is typical. But there was one boy in particular who caught my eye. This boy was probably in fourth grade. He was surrounded by five siblings, the only one sitting quiet, his eyes inverted, concentrating hard on peeling the breading from his nuggets. When there was just a moment of quiet amongst the table, he shouted, "Dad! I have all A's in my science class!" I had to smile for him. The excitement on his face was contagious. The father, however, replied with this: "Oh, yeah? And what about all your other classes?" And the boy was dismissed, the conversation picking up where it left off; something about Spy Gear (If you have boys around age 10, you probably know all about aforementioned spy gear). As the boy sank lower and lower into his seat, my heart sank lower and lower in my chest. Should he not be praised? Do his poor grades in some subjects automatically dismiss his obvious triumph over another? I was frustrated for him, wishing to give him a high five and a hug and take him out for ice cream. All A's in Science. I looked over at the boy a few short moments later and noted the way he squinted his eyes, focusing all of his attention on one thing: Lining his french fries up in order from tallest to shortest on a yellow napkin, making certain the bottoms all lined up perfectly to the bottom. I thought of my brother, diagnosed with Aspergers the beginning of this year. When a young person has Aspergers, they often don't understand the written language. Maybe this boys science grade was so fantastic because he understood science. It's all facts; everything has an explanation. Maybe, his other grades were falling because he doesn't have the ability to understand them. Maybe, like Bracn, his brain simply doesn't function that way. This made my heart hurt more, thinking of how confused and saddened he must be by his Dad's quick disapproval. I turned to him, and whispered over my shoulder "All A's in science? That's amazing. I never could get the hang of science." And I winked at him. Perhaps this was out of line. It made it pretty obvious that I had been eavesdropping and after I turned back towards my own food, my own table, my own life, I could feel the father's eyes boring into the back of my skull. But the smile on that little boys face, the way he attempted to wink back, never quite making eye contact, made it all worth while.

I went home with a new outlook- I've always thought Praise was important, but I never thought about the damage the lack of praise could have on a person.

It's important to praise your children, even for the little things. Because to them, those little things are big things.

We need to not only praise our kids, but teach them praise as well. Praise for their siblings, their teachers, their peers. Mrs.Smith, you know just the way to explain math in a way I can easily understand. Thank you. 

Baby Cakes, have I told you lately how much I love that you finish your breakfast? You eat every thing on your plate and give me a giant "Thank You Mama" smile afterwards. It melts me.



I love how determined you are to help Mommy out around the house. You know how to fold laundry like a pro, and organize the dishwasher just right.



And in the bath? You're so good at washing your face and helping Mommy rub the soap into your hair. 



You're an amazing artist.
You're a fantastic dancer.
You're the worlds best story teller.
You're my favorite cuddle buddy.
You're a pro at helping mommy put toys back in the basket.
Your hugs and kisses are top notch.
You're simply outstanding.

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.