Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Sharing the Loss of a Sibling

As many of you know, we are hosting another day of kindness for Violet on October 11. I asked Georgia what she wanted to do on this day as her act of kindness. As she was thinking she suggested asking her classmates to participate with us. After all, Mom and Dad have asked all of their friends....it seems only fitting that she ask hers too.

I go to Georgia's class on Wednesday mornings to help with whatever I can. Sometimes is crowd control....they are a chatty bunch. Today when I went to her class, we started off by talking to everyone about Violet. 

I was able to explain who Violet is to these kiddos without breaking down....that was the first challenge. They all became very somber when I told them that Violet died. They looked sad....and that is what I expected, it is sad when your baby dies. 

Then I started talking about our day of kindness and what we were asking our friends and family to do. We made sure that they got the concept by asking them what kind things they could do for someone else. They suggested reading a book to their siblings, cleaning their room without being told, helping mom around the house, delivering a meal to a homeless person, and so on. Georgia and I shared some of the things that we did last year. I think that was their favorite part....hearing about all of the little ways did random acts of kindness. 

During all of this, one little girl raised her hand. When Georgia's teacher called on her, she shared that she too had a little sister who died. Her sister's name was Hunter. Georgia's teacher asked if they honored Hunter's memory in anyway, she looked a little sad and said, "no." 

After all of the sharing, the class went on to do their reading assignments. I hung out with them until they left for music class. But before they left, as Georgia was giving me a goodbye hug, this little girl who also lost a sister came up to us. She told Georgia that she knew what it was like to have a little sister die. She said that her sister was born one day and then died the next. I told her that I was sorry that her little sister died. She told me that she was sorry my baby died. And Georgia and I both gave her a little hug. 

It was obvious to me that this little girl was in pain. I don't really know her....she was in Georgia's kindergarten class, but it's not someone that Georgia hangs out with much. So I have no idea about her family situation. I hope that her family has found peace with their baby's death. I hope that they have healed, as much as possible. I hope that they haven't pushed Hunter's life to the back of their minds....if they don't think about it then it didn't happen, right? I hope that this little girl was given the chance to process what Hunter's life and death mean. I hope that she is told it's ok to miss her little sister. I hope that she knows how unfair this is. I hope she is able to talk about her feelings. I hope, I hope, I hope. 

So, what can I do. Not much I'm afraid...not unless I'm asked. Who knows, maybe this child will go home and talk to her mom and or dad about our day of kindness. Maybe they will learn that they aren't the only ones out there living with this terrible thing called grief. And maybe, I touched this child's heart today. And if she isn't getting the support she needs to grieve the loss of her sister, hopefully she will remember Georgia and me today talking to her class and telling them how much we love Violet and how much we miss her. Hopefully she remembers those things and knows that it's ok for her to love and miss her sister too. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

good reads #12 little house on the prairie


book #12 is crossed off the list! little house on the prairie tells the story of pa, ma, mary, laura and baby carrie as they settle in indian territory in kansas. the prairie has all sort of fun, but also a bit of danger comes as they settle into this untamed land. 

i'm ready for book #3 in the little house series!

here is how my list is looking so far....not sure if i'm going to make it, but i'm going to keep trying

1. The Secret Garden by Francis Hodgson Burnett 
2-10. The Little House Series by Laura Ingalls Wilder 
      Little House In The Big Woods
      Little House On The Prairie
      Farmer Boy
      On The Banks of Plum Creek
      By The Shores of Silver Lake
      The Long Winter
      Little Town on the Prairie
      These Happy Golden Years
      The First Four Years
11. The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
12. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
13. Wild by Cheryl Strayed
14. The Giver by Lois Lowry 
15. Charlotte's Web by E.B. White 

16. Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren
17. Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo
18. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling
19. Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson
20. Harriet The Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
21. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
22. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
23. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell I started, but had to return it to the library before I could finish :(
24. Princess: A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia by Jean Sasson
25. The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes
26. They Were Still Born: Personal Stories About Stillbirth by Janel Atlas 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

latest obsession

ok you guys want to know what my latest obsession is.....pork chops. not just any pork chops, but lemon basil grilled pork chops. they are TO DIE FOR! we just had some for dinner and my mouth is watering just thinking about them. i can't wait for lunch tomorrow. 

so, i've been doing the paleo diet thing off and on for a few weeks. i did great for 2 weeks in a row and then had a little road bump. my road bump may have been the cupcakes that were at our house for georgia's birthday party. but anyway, i got back on track this week. anyway, i have been looking all over pinterest for delicious paleo recipes to try and i came across these pork chops. 

i don't have a photo of my own to share, but here is the link to the recipe. http://bitzngiggles.com/2014/06/lemon-basil-grilled-pork-chops.html

tonight, i made the chops with a side of grilled veggies...a combo of yellow squash, zucchini, mushrooms and onion seasoned with S&P, garlic and oregano. it was delicious, if i do say so myself. 

so here's my point.....go and grill yourself some of these pork chops, you'll be thanking me later. 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Can you believe that the twins turned 2? I can't!

Did you know back in August, the twins turned 2? Two years have passed since this photo was taken....



And my how have things changed...well, we get more sleep around here than we did two years ago, we have ZERO bottles in the house, there is a lot more noise, a lot more stuff to pick up, we go through WAY more milk than I ever expected, our pantry is stocked with Goldfish crackers, and Sesame Street completes our morning. 

Sometime ago I began thinking about what kind of party to have for the twins for their 2nd birthday. So, since Sesame Street is a staple at our house, what better way celebrate year #2 than to have a Sesame Street birthday party. 

I began searching on etsy and pintrest for ideas for this party. If anyone you have been to one of our kids birthday parties, you know that I total go overboard. Its silly, but I really like doing it.

I found these invitations on etsy and had them printed at Costco. Seriously, I think its the easiest way to do party invitations. I just found an invite that I liked and when I ordered it, I submitted all the information that I wanted and sent a couple photos. Then a couple of days later I had a file that I sent directly to the Costco photo center. 


Once the invites were out, it was time to get to planning this party! First I decided what the dessert table would look like. And what says Sesame Street more than Hooper's Store? Well, maybe a sunny day that's chasing the clouds away. Why not both? 



And it's not a Sesame Street party without.......

Cookie Monster

and Oscar (with Slimy)

No, I didn't make Nolan make these characters. There was a woman on facebook who had a 2nd birthday party for her little one. She made these, didn't need them any more and then sold them to me. And guess what, I sold them to someone else! It was fantastic!

Something else that I just needed to have for this party was a Sesame Street lamp post. I saw several of them on Etsy, but I knew that between me and my hand dandy Daddy, one could be made! I ordered the street signs from Etsy and then found instructions on Pintrest to make one! And while I had every intention of painting the post myself, my Dad just took care of that for me. Thanks Dad!

Cute, right? It's now in the twin's bedroom.

What did we serve, you ask? Oh well, nothing but the finest toddler delicacies....hot dogs, cheese, and goldfish crackers! Oh and juice boxes! In addition to this fine assortment, we had Cookie Monster cupcakes and Elmo cake pops! 


Oh and we also had to serve chocolate chip cookies for Cookie Monster and I made some cute white chocolate covered Oreos with a candy Elmo face. 



Evie and June looked super adorable in their Bert and Ernie dresses. It is clear who is who....Evie is a total Bert and June is absolutely Ernie! 


those dresses were ordered from Etsy

The girls had a great time at their party. They enjoyed their friend and family celebrating with them. We are so blessed to have this village to help raise our girls!










Happy Birthday Twinks! Mommy, Daddy and Georgia love you and we are so glad that we got to celebrate with you!!!













Friday, August 29, 2014

good reads #11 Little House in the Big Woods


I grew up watching little half pint on TV. I've read some of the little house series, but not all. So, I decided as part of my reading challenge for 2014, I would read the entire Laura Ingalls Wilder series from start to finish. 

Well, I started out with Little House in the Big Woods. I've read this before, but it was a long time ago. I was home from college for the summer and I wanted something to do one night. So I went upstairs and grabbed this book off the book shelf. This isn't something I would normally do, so I'm not really sure why I did it in the first place. I suppose it was my love of the Little House on the Prairie TV series. Anyway, I quickly read it it and loved everything about Laura, Mary, Pa, Ma and even baby Carrie! 

So when I read this book again, I found that I still loved everything about the Ingalls Family. I loved learning about how they made candy with snow and maple syrup. I loved reading about Pa playing his fiddle and singing before bedtime. I loved it all. 

Laura Ingalls Wilder's book is so innocent and I love the way she recalls her memories. What it must have been like to be a little girl in those big woods!

Was this book a favorite of yours growing up? Did you watch the show?

good reads #10 The Giver

A while back, I finished up The Giver, but completely forgot to blog about it! Well, it was interesting, for sure. All in all, I really enjoyed the book. I loved learning about Jonas and his community where everything is the same. There is no pain....no war, but at what cost. Since they truly can not experience pain they also never know true love. 

I see what their plan was....I see that they were just "trying" to make things better. But some of the things that I love most about life are all the differences that I see. I'm exposed to new and different things and ideas through my friends and family. Being the same is boring....isn't that what we teach our kids? At least we do in this house. We teach our kids to find the beauty in being different and embrace it. 

Jonas realizes this as the book goes on. He learns that every life is valuable, even if they don't meet the expectations and standards that we have set as "good." Jonas wants to change his world, but at what cost. 

Read the book....it's a YA book, but it's a good read for grown up kids too! The movie is out..not sure if I'm going to watch it or not. 

What is your opinion of the book? Have you seen the movie?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

good reads # 9 Pippi Longstocking

about a week ago, georgia and i finished up pippi longstocking. i remembered watching a movie or two about pippi when i was in elementary school, but i never read any of the books. from what i remembered, i thought that pippi was just the sort of spunky, quirky little girl that georgia would fall in love with....and boy was i right. every night it was, "aw, can't we read ANOTHER chapter?" we have more pippi books to read and i think that we are both looking forward to learning about the adventures that pippi gets herself into! 

if you are looking for a truly unique girl for your child to read about, pippi might just be what she is looking for. georgia has even started calling evie pippi because she likes to wear shoes that are too big for her :) "pippi longstocking is coming into your town." who else remembers the song?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

the gold kissed beauty of a sunset

ahhh, the beauty of a sunset. we all love it. admit it, you love a good sunset. and really, whats not to love....the sun burning a brilliant gold and setting off shades of yellows, pinks, reds and oranges through the sky. ahhh...lovely, isn't it?

not only is sunset a beautiful time of day, it's also a beautiful time for photographs. and NOT photographs of the sunset...photographs of YOU! yes YOU!

recently, i took some photos of my girls just to show you what a sunset session might look like.












and seriously, i get it. i get that your kids go to bed before dark these days. i get that they might be a little sleepy. i get that you want to keep a schedule. BUT, seriously folks, you aren't going to get better lighting than sunset. sunset makes everyone look dreamy. 

and while you can schedule photo sessions with me at other times of the day...don't expect them to look anything like the above photos....this will only happen at sunset! so, think about going off the schedule for one day and set up a sunset session. it's so worth it!

good reads #8 Charlotte's Web

tonight, georgia and i finished charlotte's web. as i read the last couple of chapters, there were times when i had to fight back the tears as charlotte told wilbur that she was dying. and then again when wilbur cared for her egg sac as if they were his own children. its such a touching story about friendship. but charlotte was not just a friend to wilbur, she was more like a mother. she thought him to act more mature....she helped him grow up. she put up with his child like behaviors and helped him grow and become something more than just a pig who throws himself into the manure pile every time something bad happens. hey, isn't that what parents do? we help our kids out of the manure and teach them how to live life. that's kind of what charlotte did for wilbur. and, anyone who's lost a parent wonders how they are going to make it without them....what are they going to do. most of the time, they are able to pick themselves up and carry on with life....even though they miss their parents terribly. and this is what wilbur did too, all the while thinking of charlotte. 


here's how the reading list is looking now.....

1. The Secret Garden by Francis Hodgson Burnett 
2-10. The Little House Series by Laura Ingalls Wilder 
11. The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
12. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
13. Wild by Cheryl Strayed
14. The Giver by Lois Lowry Currently reading
15. Charlotte's Web by E.B. White 
16. Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren
17. Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo
18. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling
19. Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson
20. Harriet The Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
21. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
22. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
23. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell I started, but had to return it to the library before I could finish :(
24. Princess: A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia by Jean Sasson
25. The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes
26. They Were Still Born: Personal Stories About Stillbirth by Janel Atlas 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

good reads #7 THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS

So here's how my list of 26 reads for 2014 is going so far.....

1. The Secret Garden by Francis Hodgson Burnett 
2-10. The Little House Series by Laura Ingalls Wilder 
11. The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
12. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
13. Wild by Cheryl Strayed
14. The Giver by Lois Lowry Currently reading
15. Charlotte's Web by E.B. White Currently reading with Georgia....we're almost done. She loves it!
16. Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren
17. Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo
18. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling
19. Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson
20. Harriet The Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
21. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
22. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
23. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell I started, but had to return it to the library before I could finish :(
24. Princess: A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia by Jean Sasson
25. The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes
26. They Were Still Born: Personal Stories About Stillbirth by Janel Atlas 


7 down and 19 more to go. It helps when you are reading two at a time. I can do this, right? Sure I can! 

Anyway, I just finished The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. 



This is one of those stories that breaks your heart. Your heart breaks for Henrietta and her children. But at the same time, everything that Henrietta's cells do is absolutely amazing. At one point in the book, Henrietta's youngest two children are looking through a microscope at their mother's cells. Her son says to the researcher, why aren't the cells black, my mother was black. And then the researcher explained how we are all the same on the inside. It was hard to believe that some people might not know this as little as 10 years ago. We are all the same Henrietta...and thank you for your contribution to science....even though no one asked you if it was ok to take your cells. You helped find cures and vaccines for diseases. You helped scientists learn what would happen to cells during certain conditions. You helped in so many ways and you didn't even know it. RIP Henrietta!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

100 Happy Days.....Day #1

So, I'm going to try and jump on the 100 Happy Days band wagon and photograph something that makes me happy for the next 100 days. We'll see how this goes.....I've started two photo projects and have failed miserably both times. Third time is a charm, right?

Monday, June 30, 2014

good reads #6 GONE GIRL


book #6 is done and it was a quick read! i couldn't put gone girl by gillian flynn down. its also being made into a movie! woot woot! movies are never really as good as the book, but one can hope! this book has so many twists it hooks you in and doesn't let go! enjoy!

good reads #5 WILD


wild. this was the book i planned on reading while on the plane to ireland. well, i didn't read it then. i just couldn't get into it at the beginning. thankfully, i packed another book! but when i got back, i made myself read it and once i got into the part of the book where the author was really in the wild, i was hooked. i ended up finishing the book rather quickly and at the end, i found that i wish i had taken some sort of adventure in my youth. i suppose i can take an adventure in my middle ages....don't worry, i haven't hit middle age yet. anyway, read it....it's interesting and they are making a movie about it. not sure when it's going to be released, but i hope it's as good as the book. 

day #1 in northern ireland

so you guys must be wondering where the heck i've been lately, right? well, the truth is that i've been so busy living life that the blog took a bit of a back burner. that's ok, isn't it? oh sure it is!

tonight, i thought to myself, i haven't written a blog post in a LONG time. so i decided to check it out....and well, i haven't posted one thing for the month of june. so, i decided that now was as good a time as any to tell you about my trip to belfast!

nolan works for liberty mutual....you know the insurance people. they have offices in belfast northern ireland. of course they do! and he does a lot of work with the "belfast guys." one afternoon he tells me that he thinks he's going to have to go to belfast for work soon. well, after hearing that, i headed straight into our bedroom to start packing my bags. belfast, here i come!!!

nolan was in belfast for almost a week before i got there. my parents came over to stay with my girls. a friend came over to pick me up for the airport and after giving my girls a kiss and hug, i was off on my little adventure. 

i flew from indy to washington dc and from dc to dublin. i sat next to an elderly couple that didn't talk to me and took up more than their fair share of space. whatever, i was on an adventure. after flying all night and sleeping off an on, i finally raise my window shade and i can see green....lush green land! we've made it! and then as we start our decent i notice little white blobs in the lush green land. SHEEP! what i've been waiting for!!! green land and white sheep!

i get through customs with no issues and grab my luggage. the first part of my adventure is behind me....i've officially traveled internationally alone for the first time! and now i have to find a bus to take me from dublin to belfast. i found someone to help me and was informed that i would have to exchange some dollars because the bus doesn't accept credit cards. whew! thank goodness i brought along a bit of cash. 

the bus finally comes long to pick me up and there are just a few seats left. i make my way toward the back of the bus and find a woman to sit with. across the isle is a man. he has a strong odor. so i spend two hours on a hot bus sitting next to a woman i didn't know while the guy across the isle was filling up the bus with his body odor. but, i just focused on the amazing views out my bus window and the fact that i had free wi fi and could chat with nolan about where i was and surf the net a bit. 

the stop before belfast the stinky man finally got off the bus, but his smell lingered long after he left! soon enough the bus was pulling into the belfast station and i was getting out of there....ready to have some fun....and ready to shower and get some lunch! after i get off the bus, i realize that while i have the address to the hotel where nolan is staying, i have no idea how to get there. i assume that a map will be close...no such luck. i try connecting to the wifi from a nearby coffee shop and this handsome man starts walking towards me.....it's my hubby! my knight in shining armor is rescuing me from my lack of preparation! man, it was good to see him!

after finding our way back to his hotel, i hit the shower while he went to find me some lunch! i needed both of those things very bad! when i finished we set out to see what we could see around belfast. we walked down to city hall, which is a beautiful building! and we were able to see all of the youngsters in their school uniforms since school just let out for the day. they were so cute....even the way to cool teenagers!







we decided to take a bus tour around the city. it was a hop on hop off bus, but we didn't realize that it was the last bus of the day....so if we got off, there was no getting back on. boo! we took the bus around and decided to get off at the university. there was a coffee shop recommended to us by some friends and we wanted to stop by there and see the area. 







after a coffee for the hubs and a chai tea latte for me....oh a a piece of carrot cake to share...we were off again, but this time on foot. we just took in the scenery as we walked back to the hotel to freshen up and decide where we were going to spend our evening! 






on the bus tour, a pub called the john hewitt. it was recommended by the tour guide and also our college friends. so, that was where we were headed for dinner. well, they don't serve dinner on friday nights. bummer. but we were able to find a seat and get a beverage and chat with the locals sitting next to us. 



we finished our drinks and headed out to find a place for dinner. i don't even remember the name of the place where we ate our fish and chips, but it was delicious. i even enjoyed the curried slaw, which nolan did not....that is unusual.

after dinner, i was beyond ready for bed. it was a bit of a hike back to the hotel and the jet lag was really hitting me hard at this point! so my first day in belfast was complete. 



stay tuned for more adventures in day #2