caleigh love

Monday, January 26, 2015

My mom came to visit and help with the kids while I was away at Alt last week (more on that tomorrow I promise!). She goes by Caleigh instead of Grandma which reflects both her Irish roots and her sense of humor (Caleigh means "old woman" in Gaelic).

The kids had not seen her in six months, yet Matilda kissed and hugged her constantly from the moment she walked in the door until the minute she said goodbye. Matilda is so sweet and lovable, but I also have to thank FaceTime for making long distance relationships a bit more palatable.

Thank goodness for technology and, most of all, for wonderful Caleigh's willingness to travel for those priceless hugs and kisses.

making faces

Friday, January 23, 2015

I had originally made this activity to occupy the kids during our long trips to NYC for Matilda's medical appointments with her transplant team. But after playing around with them, I realized that it was much more than just silly faces.

As my four year old and I were playing, we began to talk about the emotions each face represented. Was the man sad, disappointed, confused, or excited? And even better than recognizing emotion in facial expressions, we started to create back stories that engaged a lesson on empathy, curiosity, and understanding.

We both enjoyed each other so much and ended the day with laughter and love. Since then, we have brought out this activity multiple times and each time we are able to create endless combinations of faces. My two year old is also able to join in and loves acting out the characters being portrayed.

Fun for all, I tell you! So, here is how you can make your own.

Supplies: chipboard, paint, Cricut Explore (or x-acto knife)

Process: find fun faces and accessories in the Cricut Design Space* (or anywhere on the internet) - we collected our parts from the Dr. CheckupPaper Dolls for Everyday, and My Quiet Book image sets. We ungrouped the images to gather just the parts we wanted (heads, hair, accessories, etc.) and deleted the rest. Once you have sized all the pieces to fit with each other, you are ready to cut. Load your chipboard on the cutting mat, set the Cricut to the custom cut setting (pick chipboard from the dropdown list), and hit Go to cut it out. Once the pieces are cut, paint them with a base coat of white and then finish with whatever color(s) suit your mood. It's all fun and games after that.

Time: 1-2 hours depending on how quickly you choose your faces and how long your paint takes to dry.

*Even if you don't have a Cricut Explore, you can register for a Cricut account and access the Design Space. This will allow you access to Cricut's image library (some images cost money), which you can then print and use as a stencil to cut with your x-acto knife.

she came back

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Every Thursday I look back at a specific day and time that was spent with my daughter Matilda as she waited for, received, and recovered from a liver transplant. She was in the hospital for 72 days and we remained in NYC until she turned four months old.

November 2nd, 2012 - she came back

A call from the operating room came early. We had been told that Matilda's liver transplant should take between 6-12 hours, but to expect 12 hours. Matilda was the third pediatric liver transplant scheduled that day. I tried not to think about what that meant for the surgeons, but I assumed it would take the maximum amount of time. After all, it took five hours to get a complete MRI of Matilda - transplanting a body part would surely take longer than that.

So when the phone rang and our nurse rushed over to the nurse's station (that we couldn't see), my chest pounded. It pounded so hard that I felt like I could see myself trying to stare through the wall that separated us.

She was fine. Everything was perfect and they were bringing her back early. Only five hours had gone by and the room still needed to be prepared for her return. Nobody anticipated this. The excitement was immediate and exhausting. The relief was extraordinary. She was alive. My baby was still alive and they were bringing her back to me.

She had gone to the moon and now they were bringing her back. She was coming back.

Everyone rushed this way and that preparing the room. All hands were on deck and the PICU attending was called.

Tyler and I sat still in the middle of it all. Everyone was moving quickly, but - for us - time stood still. We held our breath and we held our hands.

And she came back.

grandmother fun

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

When you have a child who loves science and a mother who is the gifted education coordinator in her district, this happens! And, I wouldn't have it any other way.

business cards by hairpin letterpress

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Alt starts tomorrow and I could not be more excited to show you my new business cards! I loved my cards from last year. They were cute, reflected my brand, and came with a donate life pin. But this year I wanted to go letterpress. There is just something about the way a letterpress card feels that I can't get enough of.

And let me tell you, Miranda of Hairpin Letterpress is my fave.

I met her last year at a pre-Alt dinner and I have been admiring her work ever since. In fact, she created these beautiful donate life cards in conjunction with the Liver Walk we participated in last June.

Have I mentioned that Miranda is fast, willing to brainstorm ideas, and checks in regularly throughout her process? Top notch I tell you. She is a winner!

And good news for you, she has just stocked her shop with adorable, funny, and unique Valentine's Day cards. And, wouldn't this make a cute addition to any kids room? I think so!

moving on

Monday, January 19, 2015

For two and a half years a stack of newborn diapers sat quietly on the shelf of my nightstand. Partly because when we returned home I didn't want to look at or think about all those tiny things that Matilda never got to use and partly because I just didn't know what to do with them. Until the other day, that is.

Matilda has a way of guiding my actions in the kindest way. She was innocently trying to put one of her diapers onto her baby doll*, when I remembered those tiny diapers still stacked neatly by my bed. So I ran upstairs, brought them down, and handed them over to the smiliest face I have ever known. They were Matilda's diapers after all, and now she finally gets to use them.

She played so joyfully, changing her doll's diaper and giggling with glee. Then she stopped and brought one over to me saying "tiny baby, tiny diaper." So I put her on my lap and told her the story of my tiny baby with the tiny diapers and her mighty strength that changed the world right before my eyes.

Since then, I have been able to move on with a lot of Matilda's baby things. I donated a good amount of her tiny baby things and feel a sense of refreshment and relief knowing that someone else can put those things to use.

They are only things after all and I get to keep the best gift of all.

*The doll was mine growing up and watching Matilda play with her always brings a smile to my face - even when she messes up the hair and takes off all her clothes.

the commerce of likes

Friday, January 16, 2015

It was my first high school job. I worked at a bakery and had a lot of time on my hands to think in between the occasional homeless person asking for a slice of bread. At one point, I had a good handful of bills in my palm and it dawned on me how ridiculous the idea of money was. Simple, yet complex pieces of paper that we pass back and forth for this and that.

Money is not valuable - what it represents means everything.

So then again the other day, as I was driving and both the kids had fallen asleep, my mind wandered back to that moment (I don't know, maybe I was hungry for a good slice of bread). And I started to think about commerce in this new way of living.

The commerce of likes.

In the world of blogging, we trade back and forth likes, shares, and comments. Virtual pats on the back for this and that.

Some people never participate - they are the homeless stealing peeks. Or maybe they just feel like they don't belong, like the internet is a club and they don't want to be noticed for fear of rejection. Some people participate in everything they see - like an interactive newspaper filled with doodles and mustaches drawn on all the faces for giggles. And some take value in what they see, participate meaningfully, and actively share.

I get that this is silly. I get that it might not mean anything to some people, but to those of us who work hard to contribute, a like has a whole new meaning. One like here and there is nice, but just like money if you stack up a whole bunch of likes into a big heaping pile, people start to notice. People who have actual money to give. People who have actual jobs to offer. People who actually have an interest in investing to see what comes next.

So, if you like something you see on the internet and usually do nothing but scroll on by, please slow down and offer some currency in the form of a like.

the 6-12 hour wait

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Every Thursday I look back at a specific day and time that was spent with my daughter Matilda as she waited for, received, and recovered from a liver transplant. She was in the hospital for 72 days and we remained in NYC until she turned four months old.

November 2nd, 2012 - the 6-12 hour wait

We were back in the PICU, in Matilda's now empty room. I curled up in the chair that had become my resting spot for the last five weeks, and I held on to Matilda's blanket. There is no describing what I felt. Like times before, sitting in this same spot, my mind raced between logic, delusion, and hysteria. We had 6-12 hours of waiting for a phone call - a phone call that would result in either the worst day of our lives or the best.

A part of me wanted to prepare for the gloom of bad news - to play over in my mind how I would react or what would happen if she did not survive. Would I scream in horror like the mother who lost her little one a few weeks earlier? Would I hold on in disbelief until she was back in my arms? But I didn't let myself think those thoughts. I literally pushed them out.

I didn't want to know. I didn't want to focus on the sad. None of this was sad. Unfortunate, yes. Not what I expected, yes. But, it was Matilda's life. This was her life. If she didn't make it, I wanted to focus on every last second that I was able to love her. Because if there was anything that I knew for certain it was that Matilda had a beautiful life full of more love than anyone I had ever known.

And so I sat in that chair and I replayed every beautiful moment I could muster. Like when she was born and the first thing I thought was that she looked just like her brother - but miniature. Her baptism at the hospital, where she awoke and gave me eyebrows as if to say everything would be okay. Or, holding her after way too long and receiving a smile and a nudge. All the times Tyler and I rallied to cheer her on, to try and teach her new things, to read her books, to sing her as many songs as we could. The long nights listening to music and rubbing her feet, her hands, her little head. The triumphs we shared when a diagnosis was made, when a treatment was in place. The hope we felt when all seemed lost. The love we were given when nothing could be done. Oh, the love we received. The notes from people all around the world praying and supporting us through each long day. The countless people who sent us food, words of encouragement, and gifts to occupy the time.

Every moment with Matilda was celebrated. It was beautiful. And I was in love. I felt more love in this little hospital corner than I had ever felt. And Matilda felt it too. So yeah, she was sick, she was losing her life one day at a time, but each day that she was alive was full.

I feel asleep on that chair waiting and knowing that when I awoke, no matter the outcome, we would celebrate. We would celebrate the love, the beauty, and the life of Mighty Matilda Mary.

sweet and simple in my arms

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Parker loves school. He loves being with friends. He loves learning about new things. He loves to be independent. And I love that about him. I love that he feels comfortable and confident at school. I love that he has somewhere to go and not worry about his sister or germs or whatever else.

But at the same time, I feel him slipping away. I am losing touch with who he is and what makes him tick. After school he is exhausted and requests alone time. And our after-dinner routine moves us from bath to housecleaning to books and bed.

Sometimes I just want to slow him down. To hold him still and have an excellent conversation. Most days he seems so sporadic, energetic, and ready for whatever is next. It just seems all too fast and I am not sure that I am ready for him to move onto this next phase of boyhood.

Last Sunday, he feel asleep in my arms at church. He hasn't done that in years - if ever. And I sat there as still as I could (not participating in the standing, sitting, or kneeling parts). I just sat and held him in my arms because he felt so little. So simple. And, for those few moments, like my tiny little baby once again.

I kept kissing him on the head and praying in thanks for the chance to be still and hold him in the most beautiful way imaginable.

strawberry milk valentine

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

I still remember the day at school in the second grade when my teacher gave us each a little envelope with strawberry milk mix for Valentine's Day. It was the first time I had ever had flavored milk and probably the gateway to my latte habit. Ha!

It is such a simple Valentine, yet festive and sweet enough to feel like a big treat. Here is how you can make your own:

Supplies: Strawberry mix, glassine envelopes, stickers, straws, tape, and cardstock.

Process: Put a spoonful of strawberry mix into each envelope and seal with a sticker. Then, cut flags out of cardstock, punch a hole, put a straw through, and add another sticker or the recipient's name onto the flag. Tape the straw and flag to the back of the envelope and serve with milk!

Time: I made 20 and it only took me a half hour!

And a huge thank you to Wayfair and Bing for the goodie box filled with #dreamstudio inspiration for this project! I can't wait to sit down and chat with each of you at Alt Summit next week!

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