~MOM~

If you would have asked me about my relationship with my mother about 12 years ago I wouldn’t have had much good to say. I was 18 and mixed up with a boy. I was leaving behind acceptance letters from all four of the Universities I had applied to: UC Santa Barbara, Chico State University, UCSD, and Cal State, Bakersfield to move 3000 miles away. I was smoking (cigarettes, I know–>foul habit) and ditching class–>I was, essentially, on a path of self-destruction . At the time it didn’t feel that way though. I felt as though I was liberating myself from my mother’s high expectations. I felt as though there was no room for me to be “less than the best” in my home.  In my early twenties I wrestled with the relationship between my mother and I. I don’t want you to preceive that my mom was some horrible mommy dearest, because she wasn’t. She did have high expectations and she wasn’t very forthcoming with love. She didn’t fawn all over me or dote on me when I was sick and she was hard to please. You are probably wondering where I am going with this…some Mother’s Day shout-out huh? LOL So, here is the point of all this: I spent so many years focusing on what she could have done better, in my eyes, instead of focusing on all that she did RIGHT. I know of the roads my mother has traveled in her life; dark roads filled with hurt and violation and abandonment. She chose better for me. MY MOM CHOSE BETTER FOR ME. She didn’t wallow and get hooked on drugs or become and alcoholic, even though she could have easily gone down that path. Here is what my mom did right:

She became educated: she worked hard and sacrificed much to become an RN so that we could move into a better neighborhood.

She always made sure I had clean clothes to wear and that they fit.

She fed me.

She encourgaed me to strive for more.

She believed in me.

She encouraged every hobby or extracurricular activity I wanted to participate in.

She went to work on days she didn’t want to, for me.

She shared her love of music with me.

She taught me about respecting myself and my body.

She talked to me anytime, day or night, when I needed to talk.

She respected me, her child…she respected me as a human being.

She never put her hands on me in anger. The only time my mother  every physically touched me it was to give me a hug..and I believe that is the way it ought to be. I don’t spank my children either.

I could come to my mother with anything and she would not sit in judgment. She would listen and then offer advice.

She took me on long car rides so we could just talk.

She taught me to me humble.

She taught me to be compassionate and have empathy for others.

She taught me to take pride in what I do and who I am.

She taught me to be a hard worker.

She taught me to look outside the four walls of my house, to the rest of the world.

She taught me to have a sense of humor.

She taught me to stick up for myself.

The list could go on and on. You see, the thing I have come to realize is that the list of all my mom has done right throughout the years far outweighs anything else. I might have had a little more pressure and less I love yous growing up, but I have had something more important than that. I have had real, solid proof that my mother loves me. When she chose to abstain from drugs and alcohol, when she chose to not beat me as she had been beaten, when she chose to go to school so I could grow up with more opportunities, when she chose my dad, when she chose to protect me from a life of violence, when she chose to be more than what she was told she would become as a child–>she chose BETTER, not only for herself but–>for ME! If that isn’t love, I don’t know what is. 

   One of my favorite pictures of my mom, she looks so happy here.

Love you mom and I thank you for raising the bar and breaking the cycle of violence. There is no greater gift you coud have given me than the feeling that I was safe in my home. I never had to be afraid. I wish I could give you the childhood you gave me…love you.

An old familiar road….

”Friendship isn’t a big thing, it’s a million little things.” ~unknown

Tonight while watching TV with my husband my cell phone rang. It was nearly ten and I knew it could only be one person. My best friend. Stacey. The late calls come less frequent these days because life changes…circumstances change, but I knew without a doubt it was her calling. The question she had for me—->do you want to come over to my parent’s house really quick…I’m in my dress. Do I want to come over??? Of COURSE I do! LOL I live right down the street from her parent’s house because I live in the house my parent’s lived in while I was in high school. I have traveled the road from this house to Stacey’s house too many times to count. I could probably drive there in my sleep….

*us in high school

 “Are we not like two volumes of one book?” ~Marceline Desbordes-Valmore

This time driving there was different though. It is literally only about a mile and a half, maybe two miles away…but it seemed to take forever to get there tonight. Memories raced through my head as I drove…the yard sales, the sleepovers, the time I surprised Stacey by kidnapping her and taking her to Disneyland for her birthday, the times we made Wal-Mart runs in high school to buy nail polish, the many times we ditched school to go to the beach (don’t tell my girls-I’ll deny it.)  I thought of all the life-defining moments we have experienced together. My two marriages, divorce, the births of my girls, heartbreak, and most recently death.

Disneyland for Chan's Birthday 2005

“I value the friend who for me finds time on his calendar, but I cherish the friend who for me does not consult his calendar.” ~Robert Brault 

 

I cried tonight while making that drive. Bittersweet tears. I cried for what our friendship has been and what it will become. For the memories of the many times I have driven down that old familiar road. Will I drive down it again? I am sure I will but it will be different. Never again will I travel down that road, park in front of that house, run up those familiar creaky steps to see my best friend in her wedding gown. It is a memory I will have to forever hold in my heart and in my mind. I can’t remember when exactly was the last time that I had a sleepover in her home. It had to be sometime in high school b/c I was married shortly thereafter, but at the time I know I was not consciously aware that it would be the last time we would stay up late, side by side in bed, talking about our latest crushes. If I had known it would be the last time, I would have savored it more. Tonight was different, I was VERY aware that this was a memory we were making that would never be duplicated again.

Big Sur 2006-tradition

  “We have been friends together in sunshine and in shade.” ~Caroline Sheridan Norton

My best friend is getting married. I can’t tell you how long I have waited for this day. Not because of the excitement of a wedding or because of all the fun activities that lead up to it but because of what it means for her. It means someone to, God willing, grow old with. Someone to tell her how beautiful, unique, funny, tender, creative and truly special she is. A husband, a best friend, the ultimate companion. THAT is what I have always wanted for my best friend–>the BEST!

Hermosa Beach 2007-Chan's Birthday

“Friends are the sailors who guide your rickety boat safely across the dangerous waters of life.” ~Sara and Cate

I can’t tell you how many times Stacey and I have analyzed our friendship. How many times we have laughed and how many times we have cried. I CAN tell you that there is one thing we have always agreed on…the tie that binds us is strong. Friendships like ours are few and far between, I won’t even try to explain it because some things are beyond explanation. There are no words for it and I have never come across a friendship like ours. Sure, I hear about people and their best friends all the time, but not a best friend like mine…not even close🙂

Southwest Lanes 2008

“The most beautiful discovery true friends can make is that they can grow separately without growing apart.” ~Elisabeth Foley

So now it has come to this, a wedding in Santa Barbara this weekend where I will stand proudly beside my beautiful best friend as her Maid of Honor. I will adjust her veil, fix her train and tell her how stunning she looks. I will look on as she makes her vows and walks through the door of this new chapter in her life. I will be everything she needs me to be on her most special day. I will be exactly what she has always been for me….the face of a familiar and trusted friend, my BEST friend.

Here’s to what the future holds! Love you my friend–>cheers!

~Chris

Monday Ritual

Happiness is…

Being draped in several shades of pink loveliness🙂

~Chris

~Love Notes~

Okay, so how cool is this idea I found last year? I finally found time to sew my own pillows out of Dish Towels! The only changes I made were the appearance of my pillows. I made them super full and centered the pocket instead of off-centering it. You can go nuts and get super creative with this!

This project is SO simple, you literally just find Valentine Dishtowels ( I found these at JoAnns) and cut them to the size you want, create pockets out of smaller cut up towels, sew it all together and fill with stuffing or a pillow form! That’s it!

Okay so the best part about this whole turn-your-dishtowels-into-pillows thing is that each day (starting February first) you insert a love note to your children and then you let them read it right before bed time. So I write one note to each girl and so does Jason and we stick them in their pillow pocket and Mikayla reads hers and we read Emma’s to her🙂 If you look at the picture below you will see the first night’s note tucked right inside and sticking out a bit. I realize it isn’t necessary to have a cheesy V-day tradition to let your kids know you love them but I think it makes it fun for them. I also think that children recognize when you put in a little extra effort just to make their day and let them know you adore them…

Love to you and yours today and everyday🙂

~Chris

http://tatertotsandjello.blogspot.com/2011/02/weekend-wrap-up-party-and-twig-creative.html

~Happiness~

Happiness is…

The orange glow from a setting sun illuminating my family’s faces on a late Saturday afternoon….

~Chris

9 years ago today….

and 4 hours and ten minutes later (yes, I know the EXACT time) I was blessed beyond measure. There is something about carrying and nurturing a child that is just indescribable…and then to meet them for the first time–>mind-blowing.

I realize this isn’t a newborn shot but when Mikayla was first born I was a HUGE scrapbooker and every one of her baby photos is in her scrapbooks under her bed and well, it is 1:28 in the morning and I don’t want to wake my sleeping beauty🙂

I remember having a lovely pregnancy but labor was….well…labor🙂 I can just remember being so very tired when it was all said and done and there was noooo.tiiiiime.fooooor.sleeeeeeeeeep. I can also vividly remember saying (after 18 plus hours of labor) that I would do it all 100 times over for my girl.

I mean really, this face??? How could I not! As a very young child Mikayla was very quiet and reserved but always very well behaved. She seemed to analyze situations and people before jumping into the mix. It’s interesting because I was very much the same way up until about age 10 (painfully shy actually). She outgrew her shyness much sooner. By age 4 or so her personality really started to blossom.

This is one of my favorite pictures of Mikayla, I can remember this moment and how happy and free she felt with the wind whipping her hair on this warm California day. I took my seat belt off and reversed myself so that I could capture a gazillion pictures of her throwing her head back in laughter…

We lived in an apartment for years and she always loved when Springtime would roll around because then she could tend to our pretty plants. It’s very symbolic of the type of person she is: she is a nurturer, always concerned with the well-being and feelings of others.

Don’t let her fool you though, she has some spunk and sass for sure! LOL  Her vocabulary has always cracked me up! A perceptive one she is! The words she would use and feelings she would describe at age 3 or 4–>yowzas! Surely you would have been impressed and a bit amused (to say the least.)

As she gets older I find that I am already preparing myself for when she will leave. Is that crazy?? My mom took it REALLY hard when I left and it put a tremendous amount of guilt and weight on my shoulders. I do not want to do that with my children. They are, after all, meant to fly away and leave the nest at some point. Weaving their own way through life.

 I am trying to savor and relish every moment with Mikayla (with both of my girls, but this post is about Mikayla :)) I have to be diligent about allowing her to do things for herself so that she can be prepared to take care of herself and hopefully her own little family one day.

BUUUUT, I’m her mamma and sometimes foot massages and pedicures ARE in order because that’s just what us girls do for fun once all the schoolwork and housework is done (and sometimes even when it isn’t–>shhh)🙂

These days Mikayla loves to craft and she has many “business ventures” in the works (this is soundly oddly familiar…hmmm) She LOVES riding her scooter and bike and can’t wait for Spring (her words) so we can start going on early evening strolls as a family like we always do in the fall/spring months. She wants to be a Veterinarian, Dancer, and Photographer when she grows up, but for now doing dishes will have to suffice🙂

Isn’t it nice that each age comes with its own perks. I can’t throw her up in the air anymore but I can snuggle up in her bed with her and read out of quote books. We have so much fun breaking quotes/poems down and searching for the buried, deeper meanings.

I can’t rock her in my arms and hum her to sleep anymore but we can and do read together every night–>chapter books at that! Our current read is Prince Caspian! If you haven’t read any C.S. Lewis books in your life–>I’m sorry. Please fix that🙂 Another favorite author of ours is Shel Silverstein. Who am I kidding? I could be here all night recommending books and authors! LOL

We bake, we BAKE together! How cool is that! Mikayla’s latest interest is sewing. In fact, just tonight she asked me if I could please come up with some fabric scraps for her to make pillows out of because there are some prospective buyers at her school. No joke. The kid is dead serious! She is on her way to conquering the free world I tell ya! I sewed this apron for her last year and she wants to attempt to make one for herself this year….

The last nine years have been such a whirlwind adventure with my KK and I still cant believe she is mine. How thankful I am for her in my life. It was nine years ago when I first understood what it was like to walk around with my heart outside of my body. Happy Birthday my beautiful , outgoing, vivacious, sweet, sensitive, bright, resilient, hilarious, sassy little tooker! Mamma loves you THIS much…off to bed so that I can maybe get 4 hours of sleep before waking up to make my special girl a special breakfast before school.

~Chris

Moose Themed Party

Hi there my faithful followers! I know I have been MIA the past week but there has been much going on between homework, kids and party planning! I just wanted to write up a quick post of praise for my Silhouette machine! What a gem of a tool🙂 I had less than 48 hours to throw together a “moose-themed” bachelorette party–>YIKES! So, the first thing I did was send my hubby to Lowe’s to buy me some wood. I had him cut it into a 19inch square and then I took it from there! I spray painted my square, created my design in the Silhouette Studio, cut it onto vinyl, applied it and presto change-o–>this is what I had:

A FANTASTIC photo prop! Cool huh??

See the orange hats the girls are wearing? One says moose and the other is a picture of a moose? Those were also made using the Silhouette and the brown heat transfer paper! I also created funny names for the food, incorporating the “moose-theme” and cut out letters using my….you guessed it—> handy-dandy Silhouette! I then glued to brown cardstock:

So neat what this machine can do right? Totally worth the investment!

Now to work on Mikayla’s Tea Party decorations! Party Planning is so much fun and the little extra touches really make a difference! Night

~Chris

Monday

Happiness is…

Having a sister to go down the slide with.

~Chris

~Happiness is…~

About three weeks ago I stumbled upon a blog titled, “Happiness is..” I was immediately taken with the name and had to check it out –> I absolutely LOVE the concept behind this blog. Everyday she starts off on the right foot because her entire blog is about sharing what happiness is from her perspective. Isn’t that a fabulous idea??? The pictures and artwork she shares are amazing, emphasis on Ahhhhhh-mazing! This blog has inspired me to once a week put up a “happiness is…” post. I think Mondays are a good day for this because I always move a little slower on Mondays🙂  SO–>here is my first post!

Happiness is:

Playing dress-up at a local Museum and telling your mamma that you dream of being a Veterinarian when you grow up🙂

What is happines for you?

~Chris

Fun with Cupcake Liners

Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy—>that’s how this tutorial is for me🙂 Just refer back to my directions for the doily wreath and THAT is how you will make this one. Here are the only differences: I used cupcake liners (see Jenn’s from TT&J’s here) instead of doilies, in addition to separating the liners you will also need to flatten them before pinching, I embellished with a flattened cupcake liner and silk flower instead of sweater flowers and pearls–>that’s it! A fabulous wreath for your front door! I used about 270 cupcake liners and the same 10-inch foam wreath from dollar tree–> Cheap, Chic, and oh-so unique–>you’re welcome!

Hopefully the scuff in the middle (on the door) isn’t bothering you as much as it is me—>grrr, I will have to see if I can scrub it away in the morning!

I’m thinking a little quote in the middle will be cute, if I alter it in any way I will show you in an upcoming post!

~Chris

Photobucket

lil luna link party button

http://tatertotsandjello.blogspot.com/2011/01/what-have-you-been-working-on-its-time.html