Two more days

Saturday is the big day. It's creeping up on me and I'm desperately trying to keep my cool. For one, my baby is turning three. (Goodness Mercy!) And another thing, we are throwing her a party with several of her friends and their parents. I don't know which one freaks me out the most but the good thing is, I don't have time to think about it.

Perhaps by the time she's ten I'll have all this under control, but as of right now I am totally flying by the seat of my pants. Because really, what do normal three-year-olds DO? I mean, I know what my kid does, but how do I entertain a whole group of them? I KNEW I should have joined a play group! With the help of the Disney website and this super helpful blog post, I came up with some ideas of course, but as to how well they will actually work, I have no idea.

Either way, we are going all in--watches, party hats, color sheets--it's all systems go and two days left to finish! My plan of attack began some time ago, however. We took a major trip to Hobby Lobby last month and Sunday night I sat down with a glass of wine, some blank paper and Addie's fat washable markers. And a little inspiration, to be sure...

The edible cake topper arrived from Cakes for Cures and I can't wait to see it all finished!

Once I got going, I had a little too much fun with the list-making. But that's all part of the process, or plan, as Oso would say... more or less.

Of course I'm totally off schedule (a little cold crept up on me so I had to take a night off to go to bed early), but all we can do is what we can do and the rest will be forgotten once the party starts anyway.

In order to keep it all in perspective, I added a few little bits of encouragement and morale-boosting peps here and there.

Because I have to remember that this is really all about my girl hitting another milestone. Not crafts or snacks or cake, but our Addie turning three. THREE. Can you tell I still can't believe it?

Special Alert! Special Alert!

For those of you with a toddler - preschool aged child who frequents The Disney Channel, you know exactly where this is going. Yes, my child adores Special Agent Oso. She knows the songs, she laughs at all the silly jokes--she loves that bear.

The little sparks of adult appeal make it one of the less annoying children's shows too. Daddy likes the James Bond spoofiness and Mommy likes that Sean Astin does Oso's voice. (If they can ever find a way to make Oso shout, "Goonies never say die!" I will pledge my loyalty to Disney forever!)

With a little guidance, Addie chose to have an Oso party for her birthday. We foolishly agreed, not knowing that it is virtually impossible to find any Oso paraphernalia, at least in the United States. About a month ago, I decided to enlist the help of my dad who loves a good ebay challenge. I figured he would be up to the task, but just to be sure, I sent him this email:

Hey Dad,

I have a special assignment for you. A Special Agent Oso secret assignment...
Special assignment CODE NAME: "From Pepere With Love"

Three special steps, that's all you need
Three special steps, and you'll succeed
Your special assignment is starting now
And these special steps will show you how:

Step ONE--find a 14" Oso plush doll (like this one)

Step TWO--bid on the doll
(don't go over $25 or what you feel is reasonable)

Step THREE--purchase the doll for your granddaughter's birthday!!!
(we'll reimburse you at the party unless you want it to be a gift from you)

Three special steps, so now you know
Three special steps, and you're ready to go.
The checklist has all the steps you need
Just follow them all and you will succeed
With three special steps!

These dolls are out of stock at Disney and very hard to come by. I saw one on Amazon listed for over $180. This is a super long shot, but I figured if anyone was up for the challenge it would be you.

Thanks Dad!
love you
(AKA Mr. Dos)

Last week at Memere and Pepere's birthday party, my dad delivered (actually, London did)! Addie was so surprised when she opened her big gift--Oso himself! At first she played it cool, just smiling shyly and softly saying, "This is Oso." But I caught her when she thought no one was looking, hugging the crap out of him with an adorable, "I love you, Oso." Now he graces his presence throughout our house. For where Addie is, this bear is sure to follow.

Way to go, Pepere! Special Assignment complete.

Birthday week

The time has almost come... Addie turns three on Saturday. THREE! Good. Heavens.

Although we didn't plan it this way, it's turning out to be quite the event for our girl. Last week, a trip to my parents' house turned into an impromptu birthday bash, complete with assorted cupcakes, singing, movie watching and lots of gifts.

Then (OK this part was planned), Curt and I surprised her with tickets to see Disney on Ice: Princess Wishes, just the three of us. We took her out for pizza before hand and sat in the sixth row to see all of her faves swirl around on the ice before our very eyes.

She was so excited and mesmerized by the show--it nearly made me cry. Because when I see the joy in my girl's face, it reminds me of a time when life was all about princesses and dress up and whether or not we'd have ice cream for dessert. When all of those characters were really real and I believed that someday I could be one of them.

When Daddy was Prince Charming and the world melted away because his arms blocked out everything else--especially everything scary.

Three is such an incredible age, I am finding. Imagination takes center stage, big words find their way into sweet childlike sentences, it's so easy to remember everything, still small enough to be carried but big enough to sometimes run ahead... Old enough to dream big dreams and young enough that no one will tell you otherwise. The world feels like a giant playground. As her mommy, I feel like a big part of my job is keep it that way for as long as possible.

So while Daddy works on big projects this week like prepping for taxes, Mommy is busy executing the plans for Addie's first kid-focused birthday party, based on a certain "unique stuffed bear". Oh you can be sure there's more on that to come!

Friday pray along

Today, nearly all plans were thrown out the window and we have been running on a perpetual "plan B". Not too much drama, no disasters per se, just different from the expected. Seeing as the entire reason for this visit was a reroute from my sister and brother-in-law's spring break vacation, it seems quite fitting.

All of this combined with me forgetting to bring a computer along means this week's pray along is rather late. Also rather late, is my mother's flight back from DC. With our last minute change of events, she adjusted her business travel to fly to and from DC all in one day, so she could make her meeting and miss as little time with us as possible. As I type, her flight has been severely delayed. She was supposed to arrive here an hour ago.

More Plan B.

Tonight I keep praying that Delta has it together and they have safely replaced the flat tire on the plane that is set to carry my mommy home. Simple and quick--Lord, please bring my mom home safely.

Sometimes the best prayers cut right to it--no frills no fuss, just real. What "no fuss" prayer do you have tonight?

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.

more sister love

My favorite thing about having two girls is that I have two girls: sisters, friends. And friends they seem to be already. I can't get over how much they love each other, even only after seven short months. Addie adores hearing Lena laugh when she "tickles" her belly (really, she's just moving her hands around and making an odd noise, but Lena seems to think it's hilarious). I hear that happen at least three times a day. And then Addie shouts, "Look, Mommy! I givin' Lena tickles! Deedullldeedulldeedulldeedulldeeeeeee!!!"

Just this afternoon, Lena was fussing in my arms as I was talking to a friend outside, and all of a sudden Addie was next to me holding Lena's pacifier. "Here ya go, Lena." She noticed that Lena needed it all on her own, and went to get it for her. **love**

Oh, and Miss. Lena can't get enough of her big sister either. When Addie gets a super burst of energy and runs around the house or the yard, Lena has the biggest grin on her face and follows her every move with her whole head. Then I get all swoony and googly-eyed over watching Lena watching Addie... A viciously delightful cycle.

For the most part, they truly adore being near one another and that warms my heart so much more than I can say. These are the dreams I began having ever since the results of Lena's ultrasound told us we would have a second girl. Even though I know it probably won't be like this their entire lives (or at least while they go through puberty and maybe even high school), I pray that they cling to one another and can always rest in the knowledge that they have each other... for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, to love, cherish, tell secrets to, play dress up with, talk to about boys, complain about Mom and Dad, to cry with, to do silly things together and laugh for no reason, to stand next to at their weddings...

Oh yeah. My girls. You do have each other, and so far you seem to know it, which means you've got it good.

...and so do I.  

Speaking of which, I'm going to steal away with them for a little sister time of my own. See you on Friday--bring your prayers!

A little clip

Over the weekend I posted a little somethin' for ma petite sours, to give them a niece fix. Lena gave carrots a go... sort of, and the results were quite comical. But when I watched the video again, I heard myself getting frustrated with Addie and thought: OUCH! Listen to that "mom" voice. Do I sound mean or just like I have two kids?
Either way, check out a snippet of life as we know it--trying to feed a kid, record it, keep birthday gifts from being destroyed, and prevent a meltdown... all at once: weekend giggle

Friday pray along

Last week I shared the Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi, an oldie but definitely a goodie, as a focal point for my Lenten prayers. One evening this week as I pondered those words, I focused on the lines:

grant that I may not so much seek...
to be loved as to love...
for it is in giving that we receive

I found myself wondering how it is that I am so easily able to give as a mother without the expectation of receiving. In my marriage, friendships and other familial relationships, sadly I can't say that the same selflessness carries through. I can quickly fall into a trap of thinking about how my needs aren't being met or allow myself to believe that I'm not loved as much as I love others.

With my girls, however, I am able to give of myself and my heart with absolutely no demand for reciprocation. That being said, I always feel SO MUCH love from the two of them, who know nothing of consciously making sure that their emotions are conveyed. And I never question how much they love me, as I know the infinite amout of love I carry for them.

That realization got me thinking... What if I was able to give to everyone else in my life at that level or magnitude? What if I dropped any and all expectation and just offered of my heart to those around me? Would my ability to love others only build upon itself, just as it does through my love as a mother? Would I then feel that love coming back to me in ways I haven't been able to before?

Lord, please help me to live the true meaning of St. Francis' words. Please teach me ways to abandon my insecurities and love with a fearless and unassuming heart. For it is only in my ability to offer up this genuine spirit to others that I may truly feel it in my own soul. Amen.

What prayer do you hold this week that I may carry with you?

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.


A girl and her cat

It seems like the last six months of this space have housed more sad or lamenting posts than that of perky "life at home" moments. Perhaps we've experienced a run of bad luck or string of trying circumstances and a crest of good is just around the corner. Maybe it's my perspective and can be partially attributed to the difficulties in balancing thyroid hormones.

Whatever the case may be, as part of my Lenten prayers I am trying to shift and take an active step toward seeing the beauty and the good throughout my day. It is so important to remember that the wonderful moments, no matter how small, always trump the bad. For every trial we go through as individuals, as a couple and as a family, we emerge on the other side stronger and more connected than we were before.

Tonight we faced another one of those trials as we said goodbye to our cat, Regan. I got him as a kitten, half way through my junior year of college and he was the leading man in my life for so very long. He slept with me on those lonely single nights and snuggled with me when I cried through each heartache. He was always a bit of a jerk, as the best cats are, peeing on my remaining luggage when I went out of town for the weekend or trying to steal oreos during a study break snack. And like most males who are jerks, he was gorgeous...

But he was also miraculously incredibly lovable. He fell in love with Curt and throughout our marriage has somehow become more his cat than mine. As much as Regan is a grumpy old man, he never so much as flinched when Addie would grab his face or pull out some of his fur. In that respect, he was such a very good boy. 

The past few years he began to go downhill health-wise and the past six months or so have been extremely difficult to watch and deal with. Our house has become somewhat of a maxi pad, as my husband says, due to the perimeter of geriatric pads lining our living room. These of course were strategically placed in an effort to prevent any more of our carpet from becoming damaged as a result of the growing lack of interest Regan had in his litter box. (Hard wood is in our immediate future.)

My once 20 + lb. cat who made grown men flinch when they saw his panther-like size, had shrunk down to less than 8 lbs. We made the decision last week that it was time to let him go and while it was incredibly sad to say that final goodbye, there is definitely a feeling of relief there as well. It's so hard to watch a beloved pet deteriorate from spunky, loving and quick to basically just being a presence. Regan hadn't been himself for a long time and it gives me comfort to know that he won't have to suffer anymore.

I will miss the sound of his purr and the weight of his body on my feet at night during the winter. I have already missed his shenanegans, seeing how he would try to be stealthy in that giant body and fail miserably. And I will always miss getting to see my girls grow up with a big ol' cat, dragging him around the house, trying to put him in doll clothes.

Such is the nature of a family pet. They don't outlive you or your littles and so they give you an opportunity to teach them about love and death, hopefully in a way that is gentle and unafraid. It has eased my hurt to hear Addie say, "Regan is sick. The vet is coming and then Regan will be in our hearts." I held in the tears and told her that she is right; that it is OK to be sad when we say goodbye and we will always be able to look at pictures and tell stories whenever we miss him.

Her innocence in saying goodbye to the only pet she has ever known somehow gives me a sense of peace. Of course she didn't understand what was really happening, but I love that she is at an age when a simple explanation for something can just be enough. He lives in our hearts. Oh. OK.

When I look back on this day, I think her reaction to the situation is what I would like to remember most. Not the sadness in carrying him out of the house for the last time or how sick he looked, but how an almost three-year-old lept over to her cat, kissed him on the top of his head and said, "I love you, Regan. Goodbye!" Like she'll just see him later on... in her heart. And she will. I know I already do.

A mistake of lasting memory

You may remember back in October when I wrote about the loss of my dear friend, Lisa. It was a shocking tragedy that left us all reeling and paralyzed with the pain of living life without her. But sometimes in the midst of life's sorrows, situations can evolve that offer a sort of gift in the wake of our sadness.

Back in October, with a six-week-old baby, I was unable to attend the memorial services for Lisa at her hometown in Pennsylvania. Many of her other friends from this area couldn't make the trip either so we decided to put together a memorial of our own to honor her and say goodbye. We didn't want to wait very long since the wound was so fresh for us. So, as is the case in most unexpected deaths, we worked diligently and quickly to pull together something that we felt was profound and meaningful. 

In consultation with some of our friends, I drafted the program we used for the memorial. Now I have never been one to remember dates very well. Without a planner in front of me, I'm lucky if I can remember my own mother's birthday, let alone the birthday of all those close to me. Whether it was because I was in a hurry or exhausted or in a complete fog, for some reason I neglected to look up Lisa's birth date in my own records. In looking at some material for her memorial, I saw a date and I went with it.

I remember thinking at the time, March 13th doesn't feel like an important date in my memory... None the less, I went on and didn't give it much more thought. I had a speech to write and I wanted to spend most of my energy on finding the right words to bring comfort to myself and the others attending her wake. I printed out all of the programs. I posted a copy in this space. Perhaps everyone else was in their own fog of grief or maybe no one wanted to make me feel bad, but I stood uncorrected on Lisa's birthday.

Enter last week, March 8th to be exact. I see Facebook posts sharing messages of missing our beloved on the date of her birth anniversary. Oh. My. Heavens. I KNEW IT!!! Yes, I printed an incorrect birthday for Lisa's service. Not only that, but about two weeks ago I emailed some of her family and said I would be thinking of them on the 13th. I'm sure they were like, What is the 13th? Don't you know? It's Lisa's incorrect birthday!

The best part of all of this is that I can predict Lisa's reaction to my snafu pretty much to a tee. First she would have been offended. Then she would have pretended to be offended. Then she would have laughed her butt off and held it over my head for the rest of my life. I would have gotten a call from her every year on March 13th and she would have said, "Hi Sara, don't you have something to say to me today? Is this a special day of some sort?" I can even hear the smile behind those words, as she would have certainly found it all hysterical in the end.

That I can still know my friend so well and feel that sense of her energy, even in her absence, feels like an incredible gift. It gives me a sense of comfort and reminds me that though she is gone, her essence truly does live on in her spirit that she shared with all of those she loved, faults and all.

Lisa, my dear friend, you always found humor even in the darkest situations. I am so grateful that your essence carries on and I can still hear your laughter in my heart. So whether it's five days late or right on time, Happy Birthday! Oh how I love you.

Friday pray along: thoughts on Lent

Have I told you how much I love Lent? I know it's kind of odd, seeing as it's the most solemn time in the church year and tends to be rather depressing. Lent calls for us to cast off all our distractions and focus on preparing for the death and rising of Our Lord, Jesus. It is a time when we are given the opportunity to discern what it is we can sacrifice that will best allow us to draw closer to Him--by stripping away what is unnecessary.

But Lent isn't just about sacrifice and giving things up. It's also an opportunity to add something to our lives that will deepen our relationships with God. A goal I have every year during Lent is to improve my prayer life. I've shared before about how easily I can get into a prayer rut: these are the things I am thankful for, these are the petitions I have, Amen. When I'm pressed for time or I'm not exactly "feeling The Spirit" that is always the routine I fall back into.

Several people who I consider to be wise and spiritually focused have recommended that in times such as those, it can be helpful to begin a prayer with a Psalm or the heartfelt prayer of another that speaks to me and can refocus my heart on beginning a conversation with God. With that in mind, I have chosen the Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi to lead me through my prayers this Lenten season. It has always been one of my favorites (we sang the song as part of our wedding) and lifts my soul no matter what is going on in my life.

And so I share it with you here today in the hopes that it may lead you toward a place of peace and find along with that clarity, inspiration and devotion in your prayers as well.

Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

What prayers are you carrying this Lenten season? Let us hold them with you.

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.

Meatless meal on Ash Wednesday

This is a great stand-by meat free recipe that kids will eat! At least, it's one that Addie eats and loves. It has noodles, peanut butter and a nice sweet tang. I use a protein enriched pasta so we're not losing out in that area and I add thinly sliced red peppers for an extra crunch and some more flavor. It's delicious warm or cold and is a breeze to prepare. Convinced to try it yet?

Not too close, now

Over the weekend, we were blessed with a visit from Addie's Papaw (Curt's dad). We were not blessed with beautiful weather, so we had to break out the indoor activities and show the dudes how we roll during the week. Of course, that included a little bit of fun with some shaving cream, which led to the proverbial daughter shaving Dad photo op. And really, what little girl doesn't love to give her daddy a pretend shave?

After a while, she pretty much got the hang of it.

Papaw and Lena loved watching Addie's barber skills in action.

Maybe a little rain was a blessing after all.

An update and Friday Pray Along

Just over a month ago, I shared some of the issues my family and I have been dealing with as a result of some thyroid trouble. (Click HERE for the full story.) In relative terms, it has been a short but scary road that has taken us all over the map as far as treatment projections and potential solutions.

The most frightening time was when I had bouts of pretty severe anxiety laced with a few panic attacks here and there. (I found it interesting that I had spent years counseling women in crisis how to handle and get through a panic attack, but when it was happening to me I came up quite short.) That swing of the pendulum came to an end about a month to six weeks ago and I found myself moving toward the opposite end of the spectrum. Instead of feeling stressed, anxious and strung out all the time I was exhausted, fatigued and worn out. My breast milk supply went way down. I gained weight (dang it), but I stopped losing hair. I tell you, you win some, you lose some...

Several weeks ago I had my blood drawn and the results showed that the hypothyroidism had become "severe". I could no longer continue down this road without medication. Up until that point I was concerned about how any drug treatment would impact my breast milk. My Dr. told me that continuing as I was could actually do more harm to my milk than if I began taking a supplement, which is considered totally safe for nursing mothers. She warned me that the first week on the drug can be a little rough, but once my body got used to it and evened out, I should feel a lot better.

Guess what? I feel better!!! As I look back on the last five days or so, I can say that I'm actually starting to feel normal again. I totally forgot what that was like. I'm not desperate to crash into bed at 9 PM every night, and I'm not laying awake in the middle of the night waiting for sleep to somehow find me either. I'm more even-keeled with the girls during the day. When all hell breaks loose, I no longer crumble and I make it to the other side without a feeling of failure. I don't feel overwhelmed at the idea of taking my girls out by myself. I am making it.

By no means am I healed; I still must have my levels checked every month or so. Now the million dollar question will be if I am a thyroid patient for life or if this postpartum condition will remain just that and resolve itself. But for now I am so grateful that we have found something that works and leaves me in a place where I can more fully appreciate my two sweet babes and my love who has stood by me through it all.

Today I am simply thankful for a good doctor and that my body is finding its way to a healthier place. I also pray for continued healing so I can nurture, love and care for my family in the best way possible.

What prayer can I hold for you this week?

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.


I meant to publish my little brag bit right here in this spot, but instead clicked the wrong button. Oops! And I was thinking just a few moments ago that I haven't written anything on Sisters Away in a while. The subconscious is such a funny thing sometimes. Mix that up with some mommy brain going loopy with a baby crying it out at naptime and the sky's the limit!

Anyway--to read what I meant to write here, click HERE.