Wednesday, April 30, 2014

this post is dedicated to you…


This post is for every mother who has sat next to her child’s hospital bed, sick with worry and praying that their surgery will be successful.

It’s a post for all those mothers and fathers who have spent sleepless nights inside a cramped, semi-dark hospital room tending to their child after surgery. Vigilant and alert. Measuring the days by the number of pain pills that were needed. While watching their child’s heartbeat move like a slow steady, gasp beneath the translucent skin stretched across their chest.

This post for all those young, self-conscious boys who dream of having a normal looking chest.



During his freshman year in high school, my youngest son announced to us that he wanted to have surgery to repair his indented chest, a condition called Pectus Excavatum.



Even though we knew he had inherited this condition (my Dad has a less severe case), we always considered it more of a small, idiosyncratic trait than a physical problem.

Not only were we surprised to learn that our 15 year old had already done his research on the types of surgical procedures available to remedy his condition. We were shocked when we accompanied him to the specialist and watched him remove his shirt.

Up to that point, we had no idea that the hollow space in his chest had continued to deepen throughout puberty, and that his physical endurance and breathing were now being compromised on the playing field.

Somehow we had never questioned the fact that we never saw him shirtless. We missed the subtle ways that he had kept his chest hidden from view. And his self-conscious feelings tucked inside.


On our vacation with family friends, Michael was already beginning to ‘hide’ his chest.

To make a long story short, Michael elected to undergo what is considered to be one of the most painful childhood surgeries there is, the month before his sophomore year in high school.

Because the surgery required that he have a bar inside his chest for a year, it meant giving up his soccer and lacrosse sports and most important, it meant missing out on the precious high school experiences that accompany team sports, the camaraderie with team-mates, the sense of belonging, and the overflow of extracurricular activities.

If your child plays team sports you know the social world that comes along with it. And as a mother, I privately ached for him.

When he left the hospital he had 119 pounds on his weakened, six foot frame and as it turns out, during his next two years of rehab I became his partner in recovery. We spent endless hours sitting together in waiting rooms. We drove back and forth to doctor appointments, seeking second opinions for an unexpected complication. Together, we peeked over the doctor’s scale hoping for weight gain. And we counted off the days and weeks before the doctor gave his ok for Michael’s return to weight lifting.

When Michael finally began his relentless trips to the gym, he told us later that he had lost so much muscle; he would need to lower the weights even after the women were done using the machines


Eventually, like so many new beginnings, he found his way into rowing by pure necessity. He needed a new non-contact sport and the Sacramento State Aquatic Center was right next to our home.

As luck would have it, he fell in love with an endurance sport that would slowly build his body and his confidence. Parents of rowers know all about the grueling, daily work-outs and the necessity of a strong body.

Fast forward a few years.


Last weekend we picked up Patrick from school and went to watch Michael’s boat row at the Western Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championships. His boat has had an incredibly successful year, consistently beating their college competition and was ranked #1 entering this Regatta.

However, in the final race they came in second place.

Although they qualified for the Nationals next month, by the looks on their faces and by their own expectations there was nothing to celebrate. It was considered a disappointing loss.


But afterwards, when I watched Michael standing over the boat discussing the race with his team-mates, my focus wasn’t simply on this single race, as big and as important as it was.

Perhaps mothers have a unique perspective in times like these. But I find it impossible not to see faint images from the past superimposed over his big body and to remember where we’ve come from. Embedded in my warm, fuzzy memories are also those worried, sick feelings from the hospital days. Those memories of a fragile body and clothes that hung from a skinny frame. And missed parties and games.

So even though Michael’s body may have healed… my mother’s heart will never be the same.

I will never forget those dark times and I’m glad I won’t. Because it keeps me grateful for the most ordinary moments. Like the joy of watching my son gliding across the water on a sun-drenched day with a body that is strong and healthy.

I see his determination and his work ethic and yes, I now realize that something powerful and good came out of all those difficult months.

But don’t misunderstand, I’m not implying that everything’s “perfect.” Because that’s not real life.

Real life (and real courage) is about keeping up our hope day-to day.

If you are struggling in some way, or if you have a child that is hobbling along though a tough time, I hope you find hope in this post. It’s dedicated to you.










Wednesday, April 23, 2014

the 30 day challenge…here’s mine.

Love card with watercolor floral bouquet. Valentine’s Day vector illustration with heart form


If you’re a regular to my blog you might remember THIS post, when I introduced Matt Cutt’s 30 Day Challenge to you.

Well, today I thought I’d give you an update because I decided to do it; I decided to come up with one thing I’ve always talked about doing, but never have.

And to do it for 30 consecutive days.

Actually, I could have chosen quite a few things for my first 30 Day Challenge but sometimes the universe has a way of grabbing our attention and telling us what we need to pay attention to, and for me, it was my physical body.



I didn’t mention it here but a few weeks after our move, I tweaked my back again.
In the days that followed I felt terribly discouraged. It wasn’t only because of the pain, but because I had been promising myself for years that I would begin yoga as a way of strengthening my spine and my core strength.

And somehow, even though I had considered it a priority, I hadn’t done it.

I really wanted to do it. I always planned on doing it. But somehow my well-intentioned yoga always got put on the back burner while other ‘less important’ things got scratched off my lists.

Can you relate to this? 

Because here’s what I did. After listening to Matt Cutt’s upbeat talk I decided to embark on  my own 30 Day Yoga Challenge. Yep, in the midst of all this crazy house-hunting and with most of my belongings in boxes, I found a hot Yoga Studio in the neighborhood with some amazing instructors and I signed up.

And the first day I was so nervous. My back felt old and stiff and when I looked around the class it was obvious I was the absolute worst one in the entire place. And even though I’d been warned about the heat, my body still felt shocked.


Day Two was better.

But on Day Three I left the studio so discouraged I felt like crying. I sat in my car and thought,

“What happened to my young, gymnastic body? I used to do back walks on the grass for fun!”

And instead of feeling positive about my new challenge, I actually felt sad about my loss of flexibility and sore enough to wonder if my body could take 27 more days of these yoga classes.

But here I am.

On Day 17 of my 30 Day Yoga Challenge. And how is it going?  Well here’s my simple answer: one day at a time.

If you’re thinking about joining me on your own 30 Day Challenge I have to clarify something.

This is not a beauty post. This is not about having tighter abs and looking thinner in 30 days. Although if that’s your goal, fine. But before you choose your challenge, I would encourage you to open your mind and consider pushing yourself into new territory.

Because asking yourself, “What is something I’ve always wanted to try?” is another way of asking, “What kind of person do I want to become?”

And it’s a chance to reflect on the kind of skills and qualities and talents that you’ve always admired in others and to ask yourself,

“What’s stopping me from being that kind of person?” Starting right now.

The first step is introducing one little change into your life today. And taking it one day at a time.


“When you see someone who has a lot of knowledge, they learned it over time. When you see someone who has a lot of skills, they developed them over time. When you see someone who has done a lot, they accomplished it over time. When you see someone who has a lot of money, they earned it over time.

The key is over time.

Success is built sequentially.  It’s one thing at a time.”

--The One Thing, by Keller & Papasan


According to Cutts, who completes 30 day challenges regularly, we have a better chance of transforming ourselves with “small, sustainable challenges” because these are the kind that are most likely to stick.




After finishing my 16th day of yoga I’ve noticed something totally unexpected; as each day passes it’s actually getting easier to fit yoga into my day. Midway through I’ve stopped the internal debate, wondering if I’ll really go. And I just do it. But it requires planning ahead, slowing down and having alternate plans in case I can’t make it to a class.

And while it’s true that my body is changing for the better, so is my spirit.

Matt Cutts says that success breeds confidence. And he’s right.

It’s those days when I didn’t feel like going to yoga and still did, that have impacted my confidence the most. These are the times when I walk out of class—sweaty and tired---but feeling in touch with an inner strength.

Make no mistake, sharing this with the world makes me feel shaky. I realize I’m only half way there but it’s my hope that by being open about my challenge, it might inspire you to identify something in your life you’ve always wanted to do.

And just do it.

I’d love to hear about your decision.

And if you need a few uplifting words along the way, email me and I’d be happy to support you.









A special thank you to my friend Vanessa for recommending this book after I tweaked my back. It’s absolutely fascinating, quite short and it includes five ancient Tibetan exercises which are considered by many to be life-changing.

If you haven’t met Vanessa please go right over and become a follower. Besides being a kind, supportive friend, she’s got a blog brimming with beauty and style and she always has something interesting to say.



And me? I’m so grateful for your visit today. If you liked this post you can become a follower too. So we can continue this conversation.

Tell me what you think.




linking up with these special friends:




Wednesday, April 16, 2014

7 easy ideas for a pretty Easter table




Hello friends.

This is my first holiday with all my stuff packed in storage but I couldn’t let Easter pass without giving you a few ideas for your table. You know how much I love styling tablescapes.

But since most of my dishes, linens and crafts are unavailable, I decided to make this a challenge to come up with seven inexpensive and oh-so-easy—touches to add to your table.

Are you in the mood for simplicity today?

Well these are the items I gathered for this post:

  • empty jelly, spaghetti and a mason jar I had in the cupboard
  • craft paints in pink, yellow and cream
  • bag of moss
  • bag of jelly beans
  • thrift store jar for votive
  • sheet of pretty paper from Paper Source
  • scissors and ruler
  • stick-on gems (for eggs)
  • miniature wreath from Joann’s Crafts



This might me my favorite discovery since we relocated. Yep, I found a real, honest-to-goodness Paper Source store near us and it’s filled with lush, intoxicating paper products. Will you think I’m weird if I tell you that I could seriously spend hours just wandering around touching and gazing at paper?

(I’m not sure if there’s a diagnosis for that)

But while I was there, I spotted a lovely floral paper that I decided to use as the inspiration for this Easter post. My sheet measured 30 inches long by 20 inches wide and when I got home I just cut it in half to get two place mats. I paid $3.50 for the paper.

So here’s my first easy tip.

1. Paper for Placemats

PicMonkey Collage

If you don’t have a place to buy a fancy sheet of paper for your DIY place mat, there are other options. In the past I’ve used pieces of cardstock, wallpaper remnants and even pages out of a vintage book for place mats. 


Who says your place mats have to be fabric?

2. Paint collected jars to add color


Since all my vases are in a box somewhere, I painted my jars in soft pastels.



3. Add moss to your centerpiece

I added moss around the centerpiece because I just love the color. I might nestle a few eggs in there for an added touch.


Also, what do you think of this stemware? I saw these at HomeGoods and I couldn’t resist them

because I thought the pattern resembled a dyed egg.


4. Add jelly bean votives

How cheerful looking is this?

A jelly bean votive for your Easter table.




But I think these Easter place cards might be the fastest DIY project yet.

5. Baby Nest Place Cards



You could write on the egg but I decided to try using Silhouette Printable Tattoo Paper.

That’s because I’d recently seen some elegant looking eggs that were made using tattoo paper and I wanted to try them. But I ran out of time and decided to simply print out the guest names instead.

When printing on the tattoo paper you need to download fonts in reverse.

6. Wrapped Cookie Place Card


So. Maybe you’re not in the mood to make anything.

That’s ok too. Here’s a purchased Easter cookie already wrapped. I just added a name tag.

Now what guest wouldn’t like an edible place card?



7. Old fashioned Bunny Napkin Rings

And here’s a final little touch of whimsy for your table.

What could be more simple and inexpensive then a home-made napkin ring? And if you’re lucky enough to have young ones around the house, this would be such a fun project for them. I used brown cardstock but you could easily use paper towel holders for your “ring.”

  • white cardstock, glitter cardstock (ears)
  • brown Kraft cardstock
  • cotton balls (cut and rolled into tiny ball)
  • glue
  • scissors
  • 3D Foam squares



Cut a strip for your ring and glue together.

I used basic white glue because my glue gun  is packed away.



7 inch brown strip (1 1/2 inch wide)

2 inch oval-white cardstock

1 inch circle-white cardstock

2 1/4 inch ears-glitter cardstock

use 3D foam squares to attach bunny parts and cotton tail






Well, what you think?

Anything here you might use for your Easter table?  I hope so.


And before I go …here’s a few more Easter links that motivated me to create something today.

If you visit, please tell them “Hi.” for me.


Easter Basket Made with Simple Grocery Bag



Calligraphy Eggs


Creative Ways to Decorate Easter Eggs


Thanks for joining me today.




I’m linking this post at some fun places:




Thursday, April 10, 2014

breaking up with a book you love….(a post for book-lovers)


Has this ever happened to you?

Yesterday I finished reading the final book in the Divergent series and I felt an immediate reaction. A slow, sinking feeling.


No, I won’t include any spoilers here but I will admit that I was totally bummed.

And it wasn’t simply the ending.

I felt stuck in that foggy, transitional space that all book lovers will recognize. That moment after you read the last sentence of a wonderful book and you’re left staring at the page. Cognitively you understand the story is over and that you should shut the book and get on with your life.  But emotionally you’re not ready to leave the engrossing world you’ve been living in all this time.

It’s like a romantic break-up; you may know it’s coming, but afterwards there’s an hollow space left behind. And a lingering sense of …regret.



Dear Book Series, I wasn’t truly ready yet. Sniff, sniff.  Can we get back together again?

It’s what I call my Book Blues. It’s the feeling I get when I’ve become completely engrossed with a book and it ends. After I’ve become so emotionally connected to the characters and captivated by the storyline that I carry the book with me wherever I go.

Just in case.

You know what I mean, fellow book worms. Just in case I get a few moments to finish a riveting paragraph while I’m stuck at a traffic light. Or waiting in a long line. Or while I’m stirring the spaghetti sauce.

This is the obsessive-neurotic side of a true book lover.

I have to know what happens next but at the same time, I don’t want it all to end.



Do you ever wonder why you’re drawn to a particular book?

Why one moment you might pick up a book and randomly gaze through the pages and then shove it back on the shelf? And another time in your life you might pick up the same book, read a few pages and immediately feel hooked. Curious, hopeful, anxious to jump inside the pages?

When it comes to our book selections I think timing is everything. Our mood. The state of our mind. What’s going on in our life. The last book we read. I believe all of these factors silently move us toward selecting that ‘right’ book.

Choosing a book is like choosing a quickie romance. We’re drawn to a certain book because it offers a perfect kind of escape at the right time.


I’m not usually a reader of futuristic-science fiction books, especially ones aimed at younger readers. But I’m not a book snob. Because I did enjoy reading the Twilight series, and while I tried and failed to get interested in the Hunger Games books, I’m always open to a good story, no matter the target audience.




Did you read the Divergent series?  How about the first book?

I enjoyed the movie but the book was SO much better.

I know. Where have you heard that before? But that’s my humble opinion. If you’re the type that likes to read book reviews before committing to a book, I found THIS well-written blog you might enjoy visiting.


stars of Divergent; Tris and Four

By the way. All of the images in this post came from A Good Book has an No Ending. It’s one of my favorite book tumblrs and a visit there is like swallowing a happy pill.

And if you’re currently looking for a new book right now, you can sign  up at Good Reads to receive their monthly newsletters.


book blues

In the meantime, tell me.

What was the last book you read that left you with a serious case of the Book Blues?

I’d really love to hear.






I’m linking up with these friends, I hope you can stop by for a visit: 





Friday, April 4, 2014

a house update (and 3 things about waiting)



Yesterday we found out that we didn’t get the house.

We had been second in line with an offer on a home that was the best we’ve found since we’ve been here. “Best” in terms of being in a lovely neighborhood and in the right price range and having great bones and the buyers had until yesterday to get their troubled financing in order and they pulled it off at the eleventh hour. Good for them, bad for us.

And even though I knew it was a long shot, I was still bummed. But it wasn’t just the house that I wanted for the practical reasons I mentioned, there was a something more.

What I really wanted is an end to this transition period. An end to living under this umbrella of uncertainty, of not having a clear vision of what’s ahead. Yes, that’s it. It wasn’t the house that was so amazing (it was after all, a fixer) it was wanting to be done with this vague sense of waiting for our new life to begin.

Do you feel like there’s something in your life that you’re waiting for?

Some event or thing that will instantly spill magic all over your life, solve your current problems, plug up some missing hole in your life?

Because this is what I’m learning about waiting for that one special thing.


1.  Real Facts Matter Less

Yes it’s true that there’s a shockingly low inventory of homes on the market here. The realtors even acknowledge it. And while the good news is that we’re finding out the neighborhoods we prefer, the bad news is that the minute a house is listed, there’s a line of people waiting to see it.

One of the first houses I went to check out was in a neighborhood I’d love to live in, but when I sat in the front of the home and called our realtor I found out that there had already been two offers. Both cash, I’m serious. And it had just come on the market that day.

And making it even more interesting was our meeting last week with the owner of the condo we’re leasing. It was such a nice visit. Until we learned that he had decided to have his college sons move into this place on June 1st—“if that works for you-“ instead of the original plan of “take as long as you need (to find a house).”

Are you laughing along with us? Because most mornings we look at each other with loopy smiles and shake our heads. And while usually I can roll with things, I felt an immediate let-down when I found out we were back to square one.

2.  Perspective Matters More

Do know the worst thing about losing out on the house?

It was the morning after.

It was waking up in our little condo and suddenly seeing all the little things that bug me. The dog hair on the felt runner I’d put on the slippery stairs for Stella. The messy clothes on the bed because the dressers are in storage. The boxes still stacked in the spare room.

Nothing had changed. But I realized that my perspective had changed. All of a sudden getting close to having a house that I wanted had flooded me with impatience. A dissatisfaction with our current place.

Although at least I know it’s me. It’s my own head trip.

Down deep I know all this so-called “waiting” is an illusion. There is no in-between time slot that exists in life, no putting life “on hold,” no proverbial train station to sit in while life goes zooming by. We make these time constraints up in our heads. And when we create these false scenarios in which our happiness is tied up to something outside ourselves, we create our own suffering.

The truth is, this is it.

This moment right here is my life. Our new life does not begin with any house, I’m already living it.

“If only I had this, then I’d be happy,” may be a thought that excites us, but it’s also one that causes us to miss out on living the life we have right now. And to overlook the blessings that are right in front of us.

3. What We Choose to Focus on… matters the most

Last Friday evening my cell phone rang and Patrick was on the other end calling me from school. While we were still talking the door bell rang and Mr. M. answered it. And there was Patrick, standing with a big grin on his face because we were totally shocked. He said he thought “we all needed to be together again,” so he drove six and a half hours for a 25 hour visit.

So all four of us got to hang out, talking, laughing, eating, and exploring our new city and returning back ‘home’ to our little, cramped condo.

And by the time we all hugged and kissed goodbye, the worrier (Moi) who feared that we would lose something irreplaceable when we moved out of our treasured family home… learned another lesson.

Home is actually not a location after all.

Did you know this already?

Home is really a feeling.










Literary brooches



Can you relate to any of this?



(happy weekend!)


linking up with at a special place:



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