Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Almost Halfway Done?

I'm not sure where we actually are in our kitchen project, but we're making progress so I'm happier than I was a few weeks ago. The new cabinet doors are here, the countertops will be in on Thursday and we are expecting our supporting beam that will replace the hallway wall to be installed sometime in the next two weeks. After all of that is done the painter can finally come in and make it all pretty. I hope.

Cabinets before:

Cabinets now:

A definite improvement over the knotty pine. I can't wait until everything is painted and the vision I had in my head becomes my new and improved kitchen. I have at least another month of living through construction and workers, but I think the end is getting closer. 

Sunday, October 28, 2012


I am blessed with a wonderful brother who has always treated me well and been a big part of my life. He was never the type to ignore me in school or make fun of me in front of his friends. I feel very lucky that I still live close to him as an adult and get to enjoy the chance to grow old staying close to him and his family. 

What I never had was a sister. I can't speak to having an actual sister obviously, but what I have learned, especially over the course of the last year, is how important a sisterhood among women becomes as we venture through life. Whether these women are relatives like cousins or in-laws or very good friends, the sisterhood relationship is one of the very important keys to a happy and full life. There are some things that a husband simply can't understand. And sometimes you just need a place to feel safe and discuss things that your husband will never be able to see from your perspective. 

This weekend I was reminded how wonderful the sisterhood I have encircled myself with really is. I cherish the women I am close to in my life in so many ways and I try to tell them about the roles they play in my life because I am so thankful to have somewhere to go and laugh, cry or even express anger when I feel the need. While not all of these women were present this weekend, three of the women who I cherish deeply were by my side when I needed them. It could have been a very long weekend at the festival we were at, and as far as time goes, it was. However for me, it was a blessing in disguise. We have been going through some very hard times in my house recently. No one is sick and our marriage is not in trouble just for the record. Life simply hasn't worked out the best for us lately and I was already beyond my ability to hold it all in and still function. As I sat freezing among three of my favorite people in the whole world, I started to share what we are going through. I was able to talk and cry and be comforted by people who were not in the middle of the problem with me. It was so therapeutic and I have such a sense of relief knowing that I don't have to pretend that everything is okay when it's not. 

As recently as a year ago I would have holed up in my house and absorbed the situation by myself taking out the brunt of the anxiety and worry on Roman. Now I can gather my "sisters" and know that I am never alone and they will always be there for me to share the good and the bad. I love these women so much for all that they are and do for me. I always knew my life was missing something before, but I had no idea how big a piece the sisterhood bond was of the puzzle of happiness. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

I Think Technology Has Given Me Attention Issues

Do you remember the good old days when you could get through a whole meal without hearing a notification chiming from someones cell phone? Or when the whole family actually sat down to watch a TV show together because it only came on that one time a year? My brother and I used to get so excited for that one night each year that The Sound of Music or The Wizard of Oz (though I must admit that movie has always scared me) would be shown. Back then I could sit still without fidgeting and twitching with the need to be doing something else.

Fast forward to now and I can hardly sit down for more than a minute. I have every intention of watching that whole TV show or even just relaxing for a couple of minutes. But I find myself drawn to doing one more thing on the computer. Or checking my cell phone every time I hear a notification. Even when I try to ignore the urge I can't keep myself from the need to constantly be in touch with everything that is going on everywhere.

The need for constant stimulation seems to cross over into my daily life as well. When I try to take a moment to myself my mind immediately reminds me of all the other things I could and should be doing. I should be painting signs. Or the dishwasher hasn't been emptied yet. Never mind the load of laundry I started 4 hours ago but got too distracted to switch to the dryer. Day after day I go go go with the hope of catching up and getting everything done so that I can finally take a break. But even if that were to happen, would I able to enjoy it or would I find myself checking just one more thing on my phone. Or working on that final tweak for a new sign design.

I truly feel that this is because of the over stimulation that technology provides. My mind is always racing around things I've posted or seen on Facebook or Twitter. Will someone comment or like what I've said? Will we get positive feedback on that new item for The Little Giraffe? I can't even go to bed at night without working on blog posts in my head as I lay trying to fall asleep.

Does this realization mean that I will turn my phone and computer off every now and then and take a moment of pure silence to breathe and clear my head? I don't know, but I think I'll try because it would be nice to step back into the good old days for a few minutes every now and then.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A New One For Me

I have enjoyed writing forever. As long as I can remember I have been able to sit down and write papers, letters, etc. without any trouble. Until now. Recently I have been dealing with a major writer's block. It's not that I don't have anything to say because I have at least a dozen posts swirling around in my head waiting desperately for me to release them onto my keyboard. There is so much I want to share and more importantly document for myself, but it has been a struggle. A struggle that I am unfamiliar with and is causing me to feel more and more uneasy as I have never had any difficulty expressing myself before.

I know that much of what I've been wanting to write about is related to my overall well-being and how I have had a hard couple of months. I can't seem to pull myself together enough to focus my energy on writing. I have taken on many more projects than I probably should have but I enjoy them all so I wouldn't want to set anything aside, but there has been a major learning curve figuring out how it can all fit into my life right now. I not only love blogging, I need it. For me it is therapy and maybe that is why I have been feeling overwhelmed. Without my daily outlet I am carrying the storm in my head around with me without formulating what I'm feeling into cognizant thoughts. I'm even stumbling through this post because I have so much to say and I simply can't tie it up into a tidy little package.

Our house is under renovation and I do not do well with chaos. I need things to run smoothly without a lot of surprises or loose ends. My house is a gigantic loose end right now. We have a plan and it is currently being executed, but it's living in the transition that makes me crazy. I want it all done so that once again everything can have a proper place and I won't have to move something new everyday to make way for that day's progress. The chaos of my home leads to the chaos in the rest of my life. When I'm out of sorts in one area it tends to transfer so it constantly feels like things are left undone, unfinished and out of place in my home, my life and my head. Ahhh! It makes me want to go away and come home when it's all done! I know that it's all normal, but I still don't like it.

I know that things will even out soon enough, but I'm impatient for the change. I feel like I could break at any time. I never get enough sleep (I know, get in line with that complaint), I'm always picking up after 4 other people plus the construction mess and I have another craft fair coming up this weekend. Boy do I cherish those weekends of sitting in a tent when I can do nothing else but be still and enjoy the experience. In two weeks I'm headed to Maine for a Beth Moore event. I am literally counting down the hours. I'm very hopeful that it will refresh me and give me the strength I need to get over this bump. I hope that soon enough the words will again begin to flow and I will be able to get back to my blogging therapy. As is evident in this post, I really need it.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Favorite Charities

Today at Kelly's Korner the Show Us Your Life topic is favorite charities. While I wish I was a wealthy philanthropist and could give to everyone who needs, I keep my donations at this time fairly directed at charities that help children. At this stage in my life I cannot help but be compelled to contribute whatever I am able to these groups who are desperately searching for ways to keep our children healthy and heal those who are not. No amount is ever too small when it comes to helping.

The Jimmy Fund - I am a big supporter of the Jimmy Fund for what they do and also because their origin is right here in Massachusetts. When you grow up around here watching the Red Sox, Dana Farber and The Jimmy Fund become ingrained in your brains. They help to give children with cancer a fighting chance and are constantly working to find a cure.

St. Jude - Again, it is so important to work towards the cure for childhood cancers. No child deserves to suffer and St. Jude is amazing at helping families deal with the process as they help to take care of so many children.

March of Dimes - We were fortunate to never have a NICU stay or need special care for our children, but there are many families who do. Donating to the March of Dimes is a way to help ensure a successful future for the babies who need assistance.

Two Hearts for Hope - This is an organization that helps children in orphanages in Kazakhstan and Russia. It was started by a woman I know along with her friend and does great things for children who would otherwise have very little. The mission right now is to sponsor Christmas boxes for the children in the orphanage that Kim recently adopted her son from. $15 could change a child's life and heart. Please consider donating.

In our house money is tight, but I always give whatever I can to these charities because I think what they do is so important and valuable. And while we are lucky not to need their services, many people do. Just think of what the world could do if everyone gave them all a few dollars.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Fall in New England

We have been super busy recently and every free moment I have is dedicated to trying to be ready for the next craft fair. But we've had some amazing weather the last couple of days that simply begged for time spent outside doing some of the things that make fall such an incredible time of year.

Yesterday we went to a friend's farm to pick pumpkins. The kids wanted to go to a local business and buy pumpkins, but what fun is that when you can wander through a field and actually pick them off the vine! I will admit that we came home with far more pumpkins than we could ever need or use, but it was worth it to watch them frolicking through the field working together to pick out their special pumpkins and carry or roll them over to the piles at the edge.

 We always have to at least try a group shot. 

Today I raked some leaves and after school the kids got to jump and play and do what every child should do this time of year. So many memories are made doing the simple things in life. It makes my heart so happy to watch my kids find the joy in activities that have lasted through generations. Some things never get old and can't be technologically updated. For that I am very grateful. 

I love fall for so many reasons. You can't help but smile seeing all the beautiful colors of the foliage. The weather gets cooler and allows me to get out my fleece coats and it means we're getting that much closer to the Christmas season!

Monday, October 15, 2012

A Chilly River Cruise

Earlier this year my mom won some tickets for a riverboat ride here in town. Admittedly, I have lived in Northfield most of my life, but have never been on the Quinnetucket II. Isn't that often the case with attractions right in our own backyards? She decided that we should all go and yesterday was the day. It may have been a better choice to go earlier in the season (they were pulling the boat out of the water today for the winter), but on the up side we didn't have to deal with lots of others on the boat with us. There were 6 other brave souls but they were more concerned with staying warm than what we or our children were doing. Despite the weather, we had a great time. The kids were all really good and all of us learned a lot. The woman who was doing the tour was excellent and she gave lots of history and interesting facts about the river and surrounding areas. We are approaching peak foliage here so on a sunny day I imagine the trees would have been spectacular and created an amazing view along the way. I was driving near the boat launch the other day and it was breath-taking. I took a couple of pictures of the trees, but a gloomy day doesn't do much to highlight the colors.
 The boat

Jason, Ethan and Evan waiting to get on board

 Grammy and Mags

Checking it all out

The whole family (minus me, but someone had to take the picture)

Maggie entertaining herself by playing games with Aunty Stacy

Captain Braeden

The French King Bridge 
(There were many interesting facts about the building of the bridge)

I love the fall, even on a gloomy day

I can't believe that I've never been on the ride before. It takes about an hour and a half and travels from Northfield to Barton's Cove in Turners Falls and back. I know that we will go again in the future because the kids all came come excited about what they saw and learned. 

And then we got home to see the Space Jump. How crazy was that?? 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Same Picture From Different Angles

Stacy taking a picture of me taking a picture...

...the picture I was taking!

I happen to think this is really cool. Perhaps I'm too easily amused!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


Braeden's team had a soccer game last night. He was very excited to play and has been having a blast this year at his practices. He played goalie one week and was so proud of himself for stopping so many shots. But I think he got a bit confused last night when the coach told him to play defense. I'm not sure he actually knew what that meant because he spent quality time standing in one spot. I think he thought he was supposed to stay where he was and not let the ball get by him there, much like his goalie experience. I kept yelling at him to move around and he did some, but...
Waiting for the ball to come to him.

An airplane maybe?!

Making sure his hat was just right.


Waving to his friends on the sideline

I think he enjoyed sitting on the sidelines with all of the "Parker Avenue Boys" as much as he did the game. 

He did get into the game a little and run after the ball sometimes. I hope that in the future he understands more about what is going on and participates more fully. But I guess it's better than Evan who only plays at his practices when I'm there (even though Roman is the coach).

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Getting Crafty

Over the course of the last year, thanks to Pinterest and several of the blogs I read, I've tried a variety of new crafting projects. While I have always enjoyed making things when I have time, I never really gave myself time to do a lot of projects and explore the tools I have to create beautiful keepsakes for my children, and more recently, to sell at craft fairs. I never thought, though I'd always had the desire, that I'd be at a point in time where I was actually selling some of the things I make.

One of my favorite projects, that I actually did over the summer but hadn't gotten around to blogging about yet, was an affirmation canvas for Maggie's room.

It makes me happy to think that over time Maggie will grow up seeing these positives statements about herself every day. Even if she's not really looking at it, the canvas will be there and some part of her will be absorbing it's message. It is so important to me that my children never question how loved they are, their value in this world, and their own self-worth. I know there will be times that they will falter in believing in themselves completely, but I hope that a small part of their brain will always be telling them, you are loved, you are loved, you are loved..

I'm not that handy of a blogger that I took step by step pictures of the process, but I assure you it's fairly simple. I bought a canvas from Michael's, cut out the letters on my Cricut in vinyl so that they would adhere to the canvas and then painted the whole thing purple. When it was completely dry I peeled the letters off and the color underneath showed through. I got the idea from Shannon at Bless Our Nest. She is amazingly crafty and had done a bible verse for her son's room. If you don't have a cutting machine, you can also use letter stickers and spell out whatever you want the canvas to say. I still haven't actually put the canvas up on the wall in Maggie's room. I think when I do, I will probably use a ribbon to bring in another color. For now it is resting against the wall on her bureau. As soon as I have a free moment (I'm guessing post kitchen renovation), I will be making them for the boys as well.

Monday, October 1, 2012

This Girl Loves Her Chocolate

Maggie has a bit of a sweet tooth to say the least. If there is something sweet in our house, this child will find it! Evan is the same way, but not Braeden who isn't really a big chocolate guy at all. Hmm.. I just don't get that. Chocolate is my happy place.

As we are moving into our kitchen transition, which has now turned into taking out everything but the fireplace between our living room and kitchen, I am trying to clean out my cabinets and pantry so that I have less to pack into boxes when the time comes. The kids and I love to bake anyway and this was a good excuse to make something yummy and let Maggie get her chocolate face on.

Evan has always loved to bake with me and now Maggie insists on having a chair for her too. It's not exactly convenient for moving around efficiently, but it is super cute. I am very relieved that for the moment she is willing to sit in her chair. I can only imagine when she wants to add ingredients too. 

Evan was asleep when we made the frosting so she didn't have to share! Life is good in this house.