Gentle reminder

The last 24 hours have been quite eventful around here. Yesterday I had a horrible pain running from my ear to my shoulder on my right side. It made me SO cranky--really, I can't remember the last time I was in such a nasty mood. Roll that up with icky weather outside, a refrigerator that kept catching on fire and a kid coming down with a gross cold and you have a recipe for drama and chaos.

Yes, I said a refrigerator that kept catching ON FIRE. Curt and I heard a loud pop sound that came from the kitchen around 10:30 last night. We both jumped up to investigate and sniffed around until we figured out that it was the fridge. Curt pulled it out from the wall and when he took off the back panel at the bottom, we saw flames underneath. FLAMES. When it was unplugged it was fine, but that left all of our perishables in a perishable position.

Long story short, our fabulous neighbors helped us out with our food and the problem with the fridge was fixed for a relatively small amount of money. We are slowly getting things put back together.

In the midst of everything that seemed to go wrong, this little scene took place in our living room on the floor in front of the fireplace:

She fell asleep while looking at herself in the mirror. "Hey, you look pretty tired. I'll go to sleep if you will..."

Precious. Thank you Lena, for reminding us of the beauty that exists even when life feels like it's crumbling down all around us. We just have to look for it.

hoppin' a train... crazy town. My girls are working hard to send me there. So instead of the usual, today I'm going to shamelessly promote my sister's jewelry. Yes, that was me ranting last week about how commercialism is ruining Christmas. And this is me today posting links to my favorite places with cyber Monday deals. To be completely honest, the prospect of a hot shower sounds so amazing that I can't trade it in for computer time this afternoon. Am I selling my soul so you can get a percentage off? Maybe, but just for one day.

First stop--my sister, Kate Kaiser Designs! She's giving a 20% discount off of everything in her Etsy shop for today only. Wouldn't one of these be perfect for Christmas?

Red & Gold Multi-Strand NecklaceRed and White Pearl and Crystal Drop Earrings
Green Pearl and Glass Twisted MultiStrand Necklace

And Lisa Leonard Designs has a fantastic deal today, offered only through her blog. I have one of her necklaces and think any of them make a perfect gift, especially for a new mama. 

Heather at Shivaya Naturals has compiled a much more extensive list of her favorite deals. If you're looking for more ideas, head over there and check out her links. She has found some goodies!

One more thing, please don't forget to enter into MY GIVEAWAY that ends this Friday. This one is FREE, people! What's better than that?

Friday pray along: giving thanks

Rather than fight the obvious I'm just going to give in. What are you thankful for this Friday? And not the big stuff, like faith or family. I want to know the simple day-to-day things that make your life feel special. I'm sure God wouldn't mind hearing about those things as well. Please feel free to also leave requests for anything else that is pressing on your soul. We'll pray for it all!

Here's how it works: Leave a prayer request in the comments on Friday's posts. It can be anything--something you are thankful for, a friend you are worried about, a desire from your heart... Anything. By leaving a comment you are also committing to pray for others who comment as well. We'll start fresh each week. That's it. You can even be anonymous if you wish.

Today I lift up prayers of thanks for so many things, but these stand out the most right now... I'm thankful for Lena's milky breath, Addie's love of dance, hot coffee in the morning and a cold beer in the evening, the comfort of my husband sleeping next to me through cold nights, the smoothe texture of pumpkin pie, the sound of my family laughing, road trips, cozy slippers, the smell of cookies baking, Skype, feeling connected, feeling loved, the power of a memory, The Lord's Prayer...

I'll stop there and let you pick up where I left off.


To you and yours...

'tis the season

Having two kids certainly has its pluses and minuses--double the love but double the work. Yesterday was a double the work kind of day. As soon as I had one child settled, the other needed me. It went on and on like that until they both were finally asleep, which didn't officially happen until around 1 AM. Sheesh.

It has taken me a while, but I'm starting to accept that a busy day does not have to equal a bad one. Although I crashed into bed completely exhausted, it was because those endless hours were mostly filled with love, giggles and fun. (I put a glimpse of that fun up for my sisters here. Of course, please feel free to peek into their present.)  

And today it feels like much of the same. Somehow the girls know a holiday is approaching so nap times are shorter and attention spans are more easily diverted in anticipation of the excitement to come. Although we aren't hosting the big day this week, there are preparations to be made so the air is filled with energy. Yes, something is definitely brewing, besides my life-saving coffee.

It's amazing how much we put into making days magical for our kids, isn't it? Orchestrating travel plans, packing the car, unpacking the car, budgeting for gifts and special meals, cross referencing present purchases with grandparents, hunting for semi-matching Christmas outfits, prioritizing what we have time to do and what we must let go of. All to ensure that the most wonderful time of the year is exactly that.

When I was a kid I don't remember my parents going crazy so our Thanksgivings and Christmases could be great. I remember going along for the ride of whatever the plans were that year, having a really good time, and of course, soaking up the joy of Christmas morning and all that it was for us kids. While I don't feel like my parents ever went overboard around the holidays, now I'm old enough to understand that the decision to hold back can be just as stressful and difficult as a decision to go all out. In fact, choosing to be mindful is probably even more stressful than purchasing everything imaginable. How much is too much? Do we buy and choose gifts based on what the kids need, what we can afford, or what we think is reasonable and appropriate? How do we come up with those answers?

The more I see suffering around the world, the more difficult it is for me to feel good about buying a ton of new things for ourselves and our girls when we already have so much. I feel this pull between wanting to give all that we have to others who are less fortunate, like buying a water buffalo for a family in Africa, and desperately wanting to see my kids' faces light up when they see gifts waiting for them under the tree. How do we reconcile the true message of Christmas with the message the rest of the commercialized world spreads much more effectively? (It would seem that Toys R Us has a bigger marketing campaign than all world religions combined.)

This is a battle I have to fight with myself every day as well. I have to make myself delete all of those ads filling my in box telling me that the best deal of the year is for today only, all I have to do is "click here for savings". And I dare anyone to watch Oprah's Favorite Things episode without allowing one shred of envy to creep up into your heart. I know I can't. A pair of Ugg boots, a Coach bag and and iPad sound pretty good, I must say. Sigh.

In a few days, we will gather with family to pause and give thanks for all that we are grateful for in our lives... and to stuff our faces. These days I am finding it easier and easier to make my list of all that I feel truly blessed to have, and very few of those things are material possessions. I suppose that list is what I need to keep in mind as we move forward to Black Friday and the season of Advent.

It's funny that whenever I hear "Black Friday" it always makes me think of Good Friday. Coincidence? Or perhaps is that the answer to my questions?

Friday pray along: selfish prayers

When I began this weekly prayer request two weeks ago, something has been on my mind that I've been trying to find a way to form into words. I'm not a theologian by any stretch of the imagination and I am sadly not as familiar with The Bible as I'd like to be. However, based on what I do know I have some observations about prayer that I think are worth sharing, and I'd love to hear your thoughts on this as well.

There seems to be a sort of pattern I have noticed in any group I've been a part of that does prayer requests: people rarely ask for prayers for themselves or others unless there is a specific illness, catastrophe or difficult period in their lives. There are the occasional prayers of thanks for something wonderful that has happened, but mostly it's intentions for something worrisome or tragic. Don't get me wrong, I think those things are absolutely important and should have as many people as possible lifting them up in their hearts to The Lord.

But I wonder why we don't also ask for prayers for ourselves when there isn't anything sad or hard happening to us or those we love. Is it because we feel like we shouldn't burden others' prayers with things that aren't urgent or seemingly hopeless? Is it because we think someone else out there has it worse than us or those we know so we should sit back and wait for more difficult cases to be brought to our attention?

I think for a long time I felt that way. I think that when I had lulls in my prayer life it was because everything appeared to be pretty good so I didn't have any significant worries. If someone asked me to pray for them I would, but I felt like I didn't need to bother God with any intentions that weren't dramatic. And I certainly didn't ever ask anyone else to pray for me unless I had something deeply pressing on my soul.

The more I think about it, the more I think that this must deeply sadden Our Father, that we only want to come to Him with the most depressing things in life. He created us in His image and wants us to strive to me more like Him in our lives. Shouldn't that include asking for help with the most mundane tasks or that He simply work on our hearts for whatever small gifts we need (such as patience, energy, understanding, etc.)? I think it's easier to ask for such things in our personal prayers, but what about others' prayers for us?

Perhaps we feel too vulnerable opening up to someone else about our deeply personal needs, and even those that aren't so deep. I know that I feel uncomfortable doing so, however I think it is an interesting challenge and one I would like to take on--to be more honest and open with those in my life who ask if there is something I want them to pray for. Sure, please pray for the people I love who are struggling. I will most certainly share those requests (those are the easy ones), but I am also going to try and tack onto the end of my list a little prayer for me, even if it seems selfish. Because if we come to The Lord on our knees with true and pure intentions in our hearts, is there really such a thing as a selfish prayer?        

This week I invite you to tackle this challenge along with me. If you don't yet feel comfortable that's fine, and I still would like to know what prayers you have for troublesome situations that are burdening you. I want this to be a space free from judgement where we can lay down a little piece of ourselves so that others may rejoice with us, cry with us or help carry us along.

Here's how it works: Leave a prayer request in the comments on Friday's posts. It can be anything--something you are thankful for, a friend you are worried about, a desire from your heart... Anything. By leaving a comment you are also committing to pray for others who comment as well. We'll start fresh each week. That's it. You can even be anonymous if you wish.

Today I ask for prayers that my sister Em find success and fulfillment in the venture of her very first booth at a craft fair. It's so hard to start something new and she has taken a leap of faith in so many ways this past year. I pray that she may feel content with her new life and that this may be the start of something wonderful for her future.

I also ask for prayers that I may find joy in the little things I do around the house. Sometimes (OK, a lot of times) I feel bitter and annoyed when I'm doing the laundry or washing the dishes, thinking that I never get enough of a break. I pray that God would send down His Holy Spirit to enter my heart and fill me with love and understanding that whatever I do to take care of those around me, I am also doing to the glory of God.

What is on your heart this week?

300th post and a giveaway

I noticed the other day that I was beginning to approach the 300th post mark and was quite surprised. Did I really have 300 things to say? Well I guess so, and it would seem that there is also more to talk about. Cheers to that!

I was thinking last night about my new life as a stay-at-home-mom, because these two things go hand in hand. Even though I've been home full time for 15 months now, it still feels so new. I don't know what I'm doing half the time, I am constantly trying to figure out our best routine, I struggle with the solitude and the isolation of being home (especially now that I have an infant as well), and I miss financially contributing to the family.

Some days I'm miserable and fantasize about grabbing my passport and a wad of cash and running for the border--doesn't matter which one. Other days I'm happier than I've ever been and feel like this is the best decision I've ever made in my life. Most days find me somewhere in the middle, with quick flashes of the extremes scattered all around.

One of the things I'm most grateful for is that in the adventure of choosing to stay home with my girl, and now girlS, I have had the room to discover that I adore writing and all that this mode of creativity can give. It has allowed me to feel connected to people, even as I'm often the only adult around most days. It has also gifted me with an opportunity to find other like-minded moms out there--miles, states, even countries away.

Writing in this space initially felt like something silly or like I was talking to a void. But slowly it has evolved to become my saving grace. When I feel like I'm a crappy mom I can share bits of that here and learn that I'm not alone. I can sit down and reflect upon our day and realize that even though it felt really tough, there were moments of perfection and bliss. And, I can focus on those precious snippets and document them here for us to look back on and remember.

This has become such a part of me and I am beyond grateful to anyone that has stopped to dip their toes in this water to see if it's for them. For those of you who decided to jump in the pool and stay a while, you will never know how much I appreciate and rely on you day-to-day. Consider these words your giant bear-sized virtual hug.

How many more posts will make it from my mommy mind out into the interwebs? I have no idea. But I'm going to keep on counting and hoping that you stick around with me to find out.

And now, on to the fun part--it's giveaway time!!!

OK, this is only the second time I've done this, and it's a first for something I've made myself, so please bear with me. I hope you remember these posts I did a few weeks ago: Fabric Flower Ring and I can't stop

In celebration of my 300th post, I believe it's time for me to part with one of these beauties!

The ring bases are nickel free and in a silver finish. So far, I just have the three fabric flower colors, but I can work with the winner to do something different should she (or he) desire.

They wear quite well and are adjustable (I have squeezed a few bases tighter for my small size 5 fingers, but they can go up several sizes as well). I love how they add a splash of fun to my hand and aren't overly dramatic.
Yeah, you want one, don't you?

Here's how you can enter:
  • Leave a comment simply letting me know you want to win.
  • Become a follower of Mommy Honesty and leave a second comment (or leave a comment to say you're already a follower).
  • Link to this giveaway on your blog AND/OR put this up on Facebook, and you can enter seperate comments for each. 
That's up to four entries, baby! (Please be sure and remember to leave a separate comment on this post for each entry.)

I will announce the winner on Friday, December 3rd so you have plenty of time to enter and spread the word to all your closest friends. I mean, wouldn't this make a perfect stocking stuffer?

If you'd like to make a few of these yourself, check out the tutorial HERE.

a click away

Today has been a little hectic so I'm just doing one post over at Sisters Away. Hope to see you there!

Tumble time

One of my absolute favorite things in the whole world is watching Addie play with her dad. There's just something about how daddies interact with their little girls that is so adorable and endearing. Now, don't get me wrong, I also love tumbling all over the floor with Addie, but there are just some things that only Daddy can do. After all of that donut eating Saturday morning, there was quite a lot of energy to burn.

There were many flip-sa-doodles...

Jumps that were impressively high...

And next to it all was this little bear. She's learned far too early that if you want to keep your toy, you'd better hold onto it for dear life--even when you're sleeping.

Saturday morning perfection.

That book again

After a brief haitus from baking my own bread, I decided to go at it again with a new recipe from my favorite bread baking book. Yes, the Oh how I love Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day rants are back! (I put a link in my sidebar if you are interested in having a deeper look for yourself. Hopefully I'll be adding some more faves in the next few days as well.)

This time I made the Pumpkin Pie Brioche dough and used it to create these lovelies on Saturday morning.

That's right--donuts, baby! Indian Spiced Whole Grain Doughnuts, to be exact. LOVE.

I would have taken pics of us devouring these fantastic treats, but I had way too much sugary goodness on my hands to even think about touching our camera. Just trust me. They are good.

Pray along

Last Friday I started what I hope will be an ongoing tradition in this space. I was extremely touched to see what was on people's hearts and it gave me a boost to hold others' intentions along with my own throughout the past seven days.

Here's how it works: Leave a prayer request in the comments on Friday's posts. It can be anything--something you are thankful for, a friend you are worried about, a desire from your heart... Anything. By leaving a comment you are also committing to pray for others who comment as well. We'll start fresh each week. That's it. You can even be anonymous if you wish.

This week I am offering up prayers of thanksgiving for the health of my children. I know we are incredibly blessed that up to this point, most doctor's visits are for well child exams and anything beyond that has never amounted to more than a simple diagnosis that was easily fixed. Thank you, God, for giving my girls healthy bodies. Most days we take this gift completely for granted.
Won't you take a moment to open up and ponder a prayer for myself and others to hold as well?

Bubble bath magic

Don't bubbles make any bath better? I think so. Apparently, so does Addie. The other night we indulged her by filling up Mama's garden tub with lots of warm water and bubbles bubbles everywhere. When I told Addie she and I were taking a bath in the big tub, her eyes lit up and she said, "Oooo--I swim like a fish!"

It's going to be a long winter away from the pool for this kiddo, but hopefully this will come in as a close second. Swim yourself clean, my little fishy!

Wednesday Knit Along

I am playing along with Ginny today to share what I'm knitting and reading these days. This photo captures my bedside table--I didn't move a thing to take it. 

I can't believe it's already been several months since I wrote this post about knitting for Lena. This was supposed to be an end of summer sweater for her, but it's looking like its debut will come in the dead of winter. I supposed I overestimated how much time I would be able to spend with those needles in hand. When Addie is in bed and Lena is resting on my chest, and I hear her sweet breath going in and out, it's so hard to put her down and pick up a project.

I've gotten far enough in that I have to finish it soon or the sizing won't be right (i.e. it's too late to make it any bigger without starting over completely). That would likely be the biggest bummer ever--to finally complete my first sweater only to have it be too small. The front is almost done, and then there are three pieces left to go. I hope I can make it--in more ways than one!

The book on top there is Ninth Ward and it the selection for my book club next week. I am so grateful that our hostess this month chose a young adult novel as I am counting on being able to fly through this one in a night or two. That already makes it a good read as far as I'm concerned.  

little me

What happens when you leave a 2 1/2 year old alone with an ear thermometer?

I SO would have done that if those were around when I was a kid.

I'm pretty sure those little covers aren't cheap, but this cracks me up so much, I can't even be a little bit mad.

Plus it kept her busy for a good 20 minutes. That kind of entertainment can't be bought, my friends.

Bad sister

I just realized that I owe my littlest sister a bit of an apology. Just over a week ago I wrote this post and linked to some of my favorite blogs, which were my sisters', including Kate's jewelry blog. Well, I totally forgot that Em started a crafting space of her own and it's FAB.

So, today I want to feature her latest venture in the hopes that you'll pay her a visit and marvel at her creations. (And to kiss her cute island butt just a little. Forgiven yet, Em?)

Click HERE to go there.

Here's a taste of some of her super cute lovelies:

The soft clutch:

 The bangband/headband:

And pressed flower pins:

She has more, folks, and in a wide variety of fabrics, many found on the island. Here's the trouble--this girl is creating all of this gorgeous stuff in a third world country, which means shipping to the US is ridiculous. So unfortunately she is only making and selling these items locally... for now. Won't you send her some love and let her know that we adore her stuff here in the good ol' USA and would pay a visit to an Etsy shop should she ever desire to open one?  

Oh, and she's doing her first booth ever at a craft fair coming up in a few weeks. Rock on, island sister! Love you and all your hard work. It is going to pay off, I'm sure of it!

...yeah, I think I'm forgiven.

Say your prayers

Several weeks ago I made an unfulfilled promise that I would be doing something different in this space on Fridays. October turned out to be so emotionally draining that I just couldn't get to a place where it felt right to try something new. But really there's a much deeper reason for why I put it off...

My sister and I have been talking for months about how we can best use our time and talent to share our faith life with others. Neither of us are working at conventional jobs at the moment and we both felt like there had to be a way to shift wasteful time spent online into something more meaningful. Coincidentally, I had been feeling for a while that What Keeps Me Going Fridays was losing its luster and I was ready for a change.

After some consideration I decided to do a prayer request Friday to feed my spiritual need and offer a way for people to connect through the simple power of prayer. Then my friend suddenly passed away and I was left feeling completely broken.

Unfortunately I am no stranger to losing a loved one long before her time. Another very good friend of mine lost her battle with cancer two days after her 21st birthday. That grief was like no other I had ever experienced and it took one year, some anti-depressants, my relationship and so much more to make it through. Something I had forgotten was how much that experience impacted my faith as well.

I completely forgot that after Adrienne died, for a time I could not pray. I would try and try and sit with my heart aching, longing for something to come to me--any words that would find their way up to heaven. Nothing. The only place I felt like I could really convey my pain to God was in a church. For months I cried in my pew every single Sunday. Silently, but with tears streaming down my cheeks, I sat with hundreds of people around me singing, reading and listening to powerful words. I cried.

Very quickly after learning that Lisa had left this world, I was reminded of that very feeling. How strange that the time when I needed to cling to God the most, I felt like I had nothing at all to say to Him. It wasn't because I was angry at Him, because I don't feel like death is ever His fault. I think that in those times I felt such incredible pain, sadness and shock that I was totally focused on my loss. I was too busy looking in at the wretched ache inside me that I could not look up.

But in a space of worship, surrounded by those who were able to feel joy and the presence of Our Lord, I could not turn away. The overwhelming warmth and embrace that came over me in that space was truly incredible--it only brought tears. I think that in that time God showed me that I really didn't need to say anything at all. When I was in the deepest pain I had ever known, He knew.

Even now, my eyes are wet with that understanding. When I had no words to pray, it was still OK because He knew my heart and all the things I wanted to say and ask for, but somehow couldn't. The first Sunday I attended Mass after Lisa's passing I knew what to expect and it played out just as I thought it would. Not long before we went up to receive The Eucharist, it hit me. I held Lena in my arms and let the tears flow.

When Mass was over, I went to light candles for Lisa and her son, Thomas. I desperately wanted to pray for Lisa; that she be welcomed into heaven so she could feel no more pain. I wanted to pray for her 10-month-old son: his well-being, the life he has ahead of him without his mother and that he be wrapped in so much love that he may understand how much his mom truly loved him. Where were my words? While kneeling before Our Holy Mother, I saw a prayer card with words I had never seen before.

At the end of the prayer it said, "Sweet Mother, I place this cause in your hands." How fitting that the very issues I was holding so close were relating to motherhood and the mothering of a child who had just lost his. In the belief that Mary is our greatest intercessor to God, I clung to those words and my intentions were brought up from the void in my gut to my sore heart and lifted from me. In that moment, I felt a huge weight was taken from my soul. I rose up from my knees and walked away to find my family, feeling an overwhelming sense of peace.

Since then, I have had no trouble going back to my normal prayer life. My hiatus from talking with God didn't last nearly as long as it had years ago. There are so many reasons for why I think that is, but I'm not ready to explore them just yet.

All of this leads me to today and what I hope will be a deep, yet simple weekly connection for anyone who wishes to participate.

Here's how it works: Leave a prayer request in the comments on Friday's posts. It can be anything--something you are thankful for, a friend you are worried about, a desire from your heart... Anything. By leaving a comment you are also committing to pray for others who comment as well. We'll start fresh each week. That's it. You can even be anonymous if you wish.

My prayer this week is for this to serve as a way for us to connect with one another and with God. I pray that this will extend beyond our faith bases and allow us to find community and peace knowing that so many others are holding our causes for us as well.

Eventually I'd like to come up with a snazzy title for these Fridays and maybe create a cute icon that you can post to encourage others to join us in this venture. Someday. But I didn't want to wait for that creative bug in order to get this ball rolling. Stay tuned...

Snuggle time

Because I can't resist this...

I'm caving in to join her for a little bit of this...

I can't think of a better way to spend an hour (I hope) on a cold and rainy Wednesday.

Is this a test?

For some reason, I have had quite a challenging last few days home with the kiddo's. When one child constantly wants to be held, the other can't seem to get enough attention and acts out. These behaviors only feed each other and the result is a mommy that has had very little time to herself and is about to lose her mind.

Two nights ago I fell asleep with Addie while laying in her bed trying to get her down for the night. Last night Curt and I both cashed in early after a late trip out to buy essential groceries and a super hectic afternoon. Just to give you a taste, here is an exchange I had with Addie yesterday evening:

Addie: I want a taco.

Me: Well I'm changing Lena's diaper right now so you'll have to wait.

Addie: Mommy, I want a taco now.

Me: Addie, I have poop on my hands so if I get you a taco right now there will be poop all over it. Do you want to eat poop?

Addie: No.

Me: Alright, then.

(a few seconds pass)

Addie: Mommy, I want a taco.

Seriously, I did not change one word of that conversation. What these days have taught me is that I shouldn't be posting promises on this blog, as it seems I can rarely keep them. I said there would be pictures of Addie in her Halloween costume posted yesterday, but I couldn't get my butt to this computer to save my life or that of my littles. So here is my apology and her photograph. A day late and however many dollars short.  

Even though this was perhaps the cheapest costume ever created, she still managed to make it look cute. Next year, barring all potential disaster, I'm going homemade. No promises...