Wednesday, February 27, 2013

don't block my blessing

i recently wrote a post about how much we moms need each other. i had such a positive response to that post that, as i mulled it over, i decided i needed to add one more note to moms everywhere. if you missed my first post, you can read it here.

i've thought a great deal about how difficult it is for so many of us to accept the gift of help from someone else. words with negative connotations such as "hand outs" and "charity" come to mind. we have managed to misconstrue the loving kindness of others as a poor grade on the perpetual final exam that is motherhood. we become embarrassed and defiant when others offer to help. "how dare they offer such a thing? don't they see that i have it all together? i am perfectly capable of doing things on my own." any of that sound familiar? even if it is not the truth, it's the version that we like to claim for ourselves. 

believe me, i'm the worst offender. i don't like to admit weakness, in any form. i am ridiculously independent and stubborn. i like to feel like i have my act together. still, living like that is incredibly isolating. when i finally let my guard down and learn to accept the kindness of others, i have learned how real friendship looks. 

one of my wise and wonderful friends quickly picked up on my hesitance to accept help from anyone. she stopped me with one quick phrase, "don't block my blessing." we all know it's true, it's amazing to give to someone else and the blessings do come back to us tenfold. if we don't allow people to do things for us, we're blocking the tenfold blessing that will return to them. in one small phrase, the tables had turned. instead of me being selfish for taking the help of others, i became selfish to refuse it. there is so much power in those four little words. 

(yes, that's one of my toilets.)

if you think that you couldn't possibly accept the help of others, let me just tell you a story to compare all yours against. after i had my fourth sweet baby, my body went crazy. i had the sexy combination of arthritis, bursitis and tendinitis all at once (...and no, i'm not 95). every move i made was painful. i remember crying every time i picked up my baby from his crib because there wasn't a part of me that didn't hurt to hold him. add to that bit of horror the fact that my in-laws were coming to visit. i couldn't handle holding my baby, let alone a vacuum cleaner. one morning, there was a knock at my door. standing in my doorway were three of the greatest girlfriends anyone could ever ask for, armed with cleaning supplies and rubber gloves. they cleaned my entire house. you want to understand a new level of humility? stand by and watch your friend on her hands and knees, scrubbing the toilet in your bathroom. 

could i have cleaned it myself? probably. would i have figured a way to block out whatever pain i was feeling and suffer through it? i'm sure i would have. was it difficult to stand by and watch others do what would have been my responsibility? absolutely. did i cry with gratitude when they left? undoubtedly. were they blessed ten fold for blessing me? i can only hope. without question, that incident has motivated me to be there for someone else. if someone has a hard time receiving what i'd like to give, you can bet i'm pulling out all the stops... "don't block my blessing." i'm not sure what ten fold is going to look like but i'm certain it will be amazing.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

cookie monster birthday party

my sister went to the most amazing 1st birthday party this past weekend and was nice enough to take pictures to share with us! first of all, this mom is amazing! how does she create all of this and still be a mommy?! she is my hero!

to-go treat bags! 

*love* the napkins. i want.

cutest cupcakes and adore the milk jugs!

what an adorable way to welcome guests!

the addition of the chocolate brown chevron fabric and the vintage crate are wonderful!

cutest gift bags ever! loving the hang tags!

these milk mustache straws are adorable!

yes. this is a letter created with all mini-cookies! fantastic!

second of all, i think i love/hate pinterest. it contains the most amazing and creative ideas, but is it possible anymore to just have a simple backyard birthday party? you know the ones i am talking about, right? with a costco sheet cake to top off the play date disguised as a "birthday party"? maybe some streamers or a couple of balloons on the mailbox so guests know where to go? are we demanding too much of ourselves as parents now? maybe we need a birthday without a glue stick?

......or maybe not. i mean, this party was amazing. maybe you all can just keep putting on these amazing parties, share the pictures with us and we can live vicariously through you. me? well, i learned my lesson last year with the train party. i am not cut out for an over the top party right now. i've learned my lesson. see you at costco----i'll be the one with the sheet cake. bring on simplicity!! 

*if you have a link on your blog that any of these ideas originally came from, please share with us. i would be happy to post a link back to your site. 

Friday, February 15, 2013

friday fun finds: fridge coaster

i have a new favorite product to share with you and it's called "fridge coaster". not only does this product make the shelves and drawers of my fridge look *super* cute but it keeps it tidy as well!

fridge coasters are super absorbent "liners" that come in tons of different sizes to fit any fridge that you may have. the colors and patterns had be sold at first glance.....i went with the tangerine color but they also have grey, pink, yellow, turquoise and purple....there is something for everyone!

my favorite places for the fridge coasters so far has been in the crisper drawers (they have kept my veggies and fruit fresher for longer)! I also love having them on the shelf where the milk and juices are---something always seems to drip and now i find myself cleaning up the fridge hardly at all! heaven!!!

some of my most favorite products are things that i didn't even know that i needed and now i can't imagine my life without. fridge coaster has found a customer for life in me. try one out----you won't be disappointed and your fridge will be the envy of every mommy that comes over!

disclaimer: I was provided with a product sample from the amazing people at fridge coaster (thank you *so* much) but all opinions are solely mine.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

the truth behind valentine's day...

valentine's day is almost over. amidst all the flowers, all the cards, all the chocolate, we've somehow missed the meaning behind the day. i stumbled upon a blog post today by one of my good friends from college, doug. his words shook all the preconceived notions from my eyes and reminded me why we celebrate this day.

before you go any further, take a moment and read the post here on the blog, "the outpatient monk." 

what a great reminder of why we celebrate this day. whatever your religious beliefs, this day was set up to honor a man who made the ultimate sacrifice in the celebration of the love of others. 

"So the Christian Valentine is not one who is wildly enamored, flush faced and dopey eyed.  In fact the Christian Valentine is not even in love with a single person at all. Instead his passion made other’s passion possible."

the idea that a man would choose to marry people, in the midst of war, in the midst of government opposition for purely selfless reasons is what brings meaning back into this day. it is a day for celebrating sacrifice, hope, and the love that there in all of us. 

perhaps my favorite part of the post comes at the end. while the day is almost over, we can each do these things in honor of this day after the page of the calendar turns. here are doug's suggestions:

If you find yourself without a Valentine you are best posed to be one: (isn't that line fabulous?)
1) donate to an organization like Angel Tree, Inside Books, The Innocence project, or other organizations that care for prisoners.
2) support non-violence organizations like Christian Peacemaking Teams, or Amnesty international who watch for moments when the state becomes too willing to expend the lives of others.
3) Or in the spirit of St. Valentine, make a sacrifice of an evening and babysit or help a friend pay for a romantic dinner.  Love the love in others.
Not sure what to do with your spouse tonight?
1) Stay in, eat cheap, light a candle and look at wedding photos.
2) Write a note to members of your wedding party about how they have supported your relationship.
3) Let your single friends know how important they are to your marriage and/or children.
4) Tell your children about all of the people who have helped to raise them and keep them well.
oh how i love this. i love the reminder that valentine's day is about love and hope, not about bunches of flowers and chocolate. i love that in celebrating love and loving one another, we honor the day as it should be honored. i think this post might have forever changed my life for the better. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

no mom is an island...

there is a saying that we all know well, "it takes a village." we've all heard it and we know what it means. it takes a village of people to raise children. the phrase was said often in decades past. however, somewhere along the line, the saying became less popular. moms say it today and laugh, somehow feeling uncomfortable at the thought of other people helping to raise their children. we have gotten to the place where we are often offended when others try to help us with any sort of parenting. in so doing, we have completely isolated ourselves from others and we've determined that, to be a good parent, we have to be a "supermom." we have to raise amazing children, keep a perfect home, have a solid marriage, be inspiring in the work place and then in our spare time create pinterest inspired crafts to fill our home. it's exhausting.

it's time to be real. this mothering business is hard work. no mom was meant to be an island. we are not in this by ourselves. mothering is an instant bond that bridges all races, all socio-economic statuses, and all walks of life. we are all connected and if we could somehow set aside the pressure we put on ourselves to do everything perfectly, all on our own, we would be so much happier.

people tell me all the time, "i don't know how you do it with five kids." let me be perfectly clear. i don't do it...not alone. i have a network of amazing people in my life who can see me when i'm drowning and jump in to help out. when i was pregnant with my fourth born, i was horribly sick for six months. an unsuspecting neighbor knocked on my door one day and was greeted by me in my pajamas, crying and barely able to hold myself together. my kids were in their pajamas with soaked diapers and i had been throwing up all morning. without a word she walked into my house, cleared the breakfast dishes and washed them out, the smell of cheerios being more than i could handle. she helped me get my kids dressed and then she got my children settled. she then headed to the grocery store and bought a bunch of different breakfast cereals for my kids, a scented candle for me, and plenty of protein filled pregnancy foods. she piled them on my counter and helped me put them away. she was my angel for the day.

last week, a friend called me up to say she was at the store and was picking me up a rotisserie chicken for dinner. she dropped it off with some pasta to cook up as a side. dinner for one night was covered. when my dryer broke this last week, friends have not only dried loads of laundry, but they have folded them and had them ready to pick up later that day. my friends are amazing.

again, let me be clear. i don't do this mothering business on my own. i have a team of people behind me, a team of people ready to support me when i am willing to admit that i can't do everything on my own, a team of people who know me well enough to read between the lines when i'm not ready to admit my need to anyone.

what if we got in the habit of doing little things for each other? what if we recognized that mothering was never meant to be done alone? what if, even once a week, we all took the time to do something small for someone else, even when they say the ever popular words, "you don't have to do that?" what if we made it a practice to stand in the gap for someone else, to pick up the load and help someone carry it, to become the village that it takes to raise a child? knowing that i have people in my corner makes this parenting road manageable. seeing the look of embarrassment on mother's faces when i do something kind for someone else tells me repeatedly that we are doing this all wrong. let's all just admit that we need each other. let's all admit that we could really use some extra people in our corner. let's get rid of the embarrassment that we somehow feel when someone does something to help us out. let's step out there and help a friend, or even an acquaintance, even if we have to be pushy, until we all come to see how much better parenting can be when done with friends.

admitting we need each other is half the battle. removing our own expectations of perfection is the other half. what do you say? are you willing to jump into the lives of someone else today? it really does take a village...and no mom was ever meant to be an island.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

valentine's boxes

i had no plans to post anything tonight but as i looked over what i needed to accomplish for the next couple of days, i decided this might help some mommy, somewhere.

my boys love valentine's day. they love the candy, the cards, the fun little gifts. they love it all. what they don't love is a bunch of pink hearts and flowers. 

each year i get tasked with decorating shoe boxes to hold the kids' valentines. (*tip*: find some place in your garage to store empty shoe boxes. you will need them at some point and as soon as you throw them away, you'll get your next "shoe box" assignment.) this year my boys were staring at the boxes and wondering what in the world we could do to make them look cool.

here's what we finally decided upon:

the boys thought these were perfect...and definitely *boyish* enough to satisfy them on valentine's day. i'm happy to say they are made by kids and look that way. it took a little bit of time to help them out but they are so excited to take their creations into class.

the only part that created a bit of a problem were the eyes. we just used wooden kabob sticks broken in half and taped them to the back of the eyes. problem solved!

what about you? any cool, creative ideas for your children's valentine's boxes?

Monday, February 4, 2013

mmmmm, mondays: turkey pesto subs

my kids love giant sandwiches. i don't know what it is about them but my third born literally cheers. i'll take that any day. i also love that a toasted sub takes about 10 minutes to put together and only about 5-10 minutes to bake. it's dinner or lunch in a snap and it is delicious. this was our superbowl treat but it is good for any night of the week.

turkey pesto subs

1 large loaf of french bread, cut length-wise

1/2 cup pesto sauce (you can make your own or buy it from the store)

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup sliced red onions

3/4 pound sliced turkey (from a deli is best)

10-12 slices of provolone cheese

preheat the oven to 400 degrees. place the open faced bread on a large cookie sheet. mix the pesto sauce with the mayonnaise and spread on both sides of the loaf of bread. top the bread with the sliced turkey. place the sliced cheese over the turkey. top with the sliced red onion. 

place in the oven for about 5-10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly. if you like extra condiments, add lettuce, etc to the sandwich before you close the sandwich and slice into individual pieces. enjoy!