November 22, 2012
I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving! And I want to say thank you so much for stopping by and reading this little blog and that I value every kind comment and email that comes my way. Sometimes, when the demands of life and family tug me in different directions, I always come back to reassessing the importance of blogging. But I think I’ve found a formula that works for now, so thank you for your feedback and words of encouragement!
2012 has been good to our family, with great health (no broken bones this year!), food to fill our stomachs, clothing on our backs, no fender benders (phew), and another year of watching my beautiful children grow. And I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this already, but back in California, both my job and Ryan’s felt the pinch (though death-grip is more accurate) of a sluggish economy. The past couple of years have been filled with challenges and a great deal of hard work and late nights, but just recently Ryan landed a new job that will relieve most if not all of the stresses we’ve been carrying for some time. My heart is so incredibly full from this unexpected opportunity.
So in the spirit of thanks and of giving, I thought this would be a good time to share some ways to give with a few of my favorite international aid organizations. If you’re not familiar with these causes, I invite you to check them out and possibly make a difference in someone’s life:
International Justice Mission (IJM)
IJM seeks to provide legal services for victims of abuse and disenfranchisement. The number and frequency of aggressors committing acts of rape and violence with impunity is absolutely horrifying. Proper legal representation isn’t an option for many women and children worldwide, but IJM is steadily building a presence internationally so that ultimately, perpetrators are sent behind bars.
I’m sure you’ve already heard about Kiva! But I had to mention it because micro-financing can be so powerful in changing a business idea into a money-making enterprise that can lift a family out of poverty. You can loan as little as $25 to help an individual start their small business of a general store, bed and breakfast, dressmaking, etc.
November 17, 2012
Watching a child try to make sense of their first birthday cake is one of the greatest things, especially if it’s their first time eating frosting! It was so revelatory to Mara, she couldn’t get over the buttercream and didn’t even bother with the cake underneath. “Mom, why have you been holding out on me?!” And Mara had been wanting a stroller for some time (she told me) so thank you Lola and Lolo (grandma and grandpa)!
November 16, 2012
Today is the one-year mark for Mara! No longer bogged down by the conventional label of baby (as she’s been working really hard at masquerading as a big kid for some time!) Mara is now officially a toddler. I couldn’t decide if I should post a timeline of pictures that tracked her growth from newborn to 1 year, but I’ve captured so much of her silly personality on camera the past month, I can’t help sharing these pictures and some developmental stuff instead.
Mara’s current favorite words: da-da, mmmMMM!, poop, uh-oh, and hey guys (more like “hey-dies!”). Lately, she’s taken to bending over to peer between her legs to view everything upside down. I love how she does this randomly, as well as how she laughs at inopportune moments like Doctor Hibbert on The Simpsons. The boys can get really offended by this. “Mooomm! Mara’s laughing at meeee!” Speaking of the boys getting offended, Mara loves to sneak up behind us, lift up our shirts, and tickle our backs. There is a direct correlation between the size of one’s reaction and the frequency she does this, which explains why she targets the boys most often.
Some of Mara’s oldie but goodies include dancing, stomping her feet, snuggling and squealing with her stuffed animals and blankets (in all my years of parenting, I’ve never seen so much snuggling), throwing her head back and sighing “Ehhhhhh!”, kissing us, playing peek-a-boo, and head-bonking us. I’m sure I’ve missed plenty of other things, but in a nutshell this is the delightful stuff that makes up Mara, and we feel so lucky to have her in our family. Happy birthday to our little girl!
November 13, 2012
Hi! Some news — I’m so happy to announce that I’m a new DIY contributor to Project Wedding! My first project is a modern backdrop constructed out of plain white poster board. While it’s a lot simpler than it looks, cutting out the pieces can take some time! It’s the kind of project you may want to enlist friends or family members to help with if you’re planning for a wedding and/or you’re wanting to do a much larger version. Visit Project Wedding for complete instructions.
I didn’t have the heart to disassemble and stow away the backdrop (and probably lose it among boxes of old craft projects), so now it fills a once-lonely void behind my workspace.
November 9, 2012
My boys have gotten so big! A couple weeks ago, Dax and Kai turned 5 and 7 respectively. Still can’t get over having a 7-year-old. That’s only three years away from 10, and once you hit the double digits, there’s no going back!
How I love my hilarious, creative, and energetic boys to pieces. It was after a particularly trying day earlier this week, the kind filled with sass and brotherly infighting, that I was reminded of the hearts of gold at the center of my boys. Kai gave our family prayer that night, filling it with small requests that matter to a child in a big way. Like praying to receive a happy face scribble in his agenda at the end of the school day from his teacher, and also asking for help with being a better listener. And Dax…oh Dax! He’s been trying his best to navigate the choppy waters of middle-siblinghood. He’ll have great days, but other days involve acts of passion in defense of his toys being stolen by big brother. Just when I think the mellow, unconditionally loving little boy has matured into someone a little more angsty, he’d come back with his sunny jokes and state that he’s my best friend forever. These boys and their pure, pure hearts.
We had a low-fuss Lego/Halloween mashup party for both boys since their birthdays are only three days apart. I enjoyed the easy way out by using Evites and Domino’s delivery and got only slightly crafty by making some Lego-colored ghost toppers (inspiration) for the cake I frosted so nicely in ten minutes or less.
Our first party game was a balloon pop, one of those 11th hour ideas loosely based off stuff I’ve seen on Pinterest. I didn’t take pictures of this game, but Ryan and Kai had attached balloons filled with Halloween jokes to the same sheet of pegboard we used for our homemade marble ramp. The kids took turns popping a balloon with a push pin, then reading the joke aloud. This went over really well, cheesy jokes and all because pretty much anything is ha-larious to a group of excited, giddy kids.
To burn some energy and time before food arrived, we went on a Lego man search, looking for 8 numbered paper cutouts of Lego guys hidden around the outside of our house. The search ended at a basket filled with small bags of Lego pieces. Each child was given a bag, and we did a sort of group build. Going around in a circle, each child would add one of their Lego pieces to the growing structure. In the end, most of the kids determined the very abstract creation to be some sort of factory, though there were a couple detractors that argued it was a loading crane instead (source for game).
We sent guests home with small favor boxes filled with crayons shaped into Lego Minifigures and cheap ephemera kids reliably get excited over like plastic yo-yos, erasers, and stickers. The favor packaging is actually from a Halloween box template designed by Mini-eco. I thought the boxes looked so much like Lego guy faces, I printed them onto yellow cardstock.
Two birthdays down, one more to go; little Mara gets her turn in just one more week.