little fish

Monday, September 1, 2014

When Matilda sees water she wants in.

When I was young, I was often accused of wearing my swimsuit for weeks, maybe even the entire summer. I would swim anytime, anywhere, and in any weather.

I love that she has a little bit of me in her. But more importantly, I can't wait until she is old enough to really swim. I can just imagine us now, jumping in hand in hand.

Laughing the entire time.

cricut explore giveaway

Friday, August 29, 2014

Last Friday, I introduced you to Team 8 for the Cricut Design Star challenge and now I am happy to showcase some of our top projects.

We may not have made it to the real TOP TEN for a chance at $1,000 big ones and a chance to be the next Cricut Design Star. But I am proud of us and think we nailed it. Go here to vote for the new shining stars of Cricut and after you do that go ahead and wish us luck for next month.

AND now, the exciting news of the century. I am giving away the amazing Cricut Explore to one of you!!! You have one week to enter (contest closes on September 5th at midnight) and is open to U.S. residents only. 

Head over to Instagram and follow me (@cloudydaygray) and Cricut (@officialcricut). Then leave me a comment here letting me know that you entered and what your handle is so that I can verify you are playing fair.

Artsy-Fartsy Mama Brassy Apple Cloudy Day Gray Happy Together Kori Clark
Maddycakes Muse Michelle Edgemont No. 2 Pencil Our Thrifty Ideas Sew Woodsy

Cricut has asked a number of bloggers to enter projects with specific themes as a fun way to test out the Cricut Explore. I chose to participate in this group because I honestly believe the Cricut Explore is a game changer in the world of crafting and, really, who doesn't love a little competition on the side.

muriel says goodbye

Thursday, August 28, 2014

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.

October 30th, 2012 - muriel says goodbye

To say that our day was emotional would be like saying that it was just raining outside. There was so much more to how we felt, the layers stacked on top of each other and shifted constantly. We were in the eye of the storm, holding our breath, and trying to be brave.

I tried not to think about the future. It was too hard. Instead, I spent the day focusing on loving Matilda with all my might and preparing for her first Halloween. Muriel was our nurse. But she was so much more than that. She made sure we were fed, she helped us smile when we were sad, she reminded us that Parker was happy and safe, but most of all, she had fallen so in love with Matilda. This was the last day of her shift and she would be gone for three days - I watched as she said goodbye to Matilda.

At first, I pretended not to listen. It had become obvious that she needed a few more moments to be with Matilda. She had given her report - it was a good bit after 7pm, but she stayed. She offered to help the night nurse transition. She held Tyler's hand. She disappeared and returned again. So I gave her some space and pretended to keep busy with my costume preparations.

She shut the curtain halfway, washed her hands, put on a gown, and stood next to Matilda's bed. She held her hand and cupped her little head. She got really close and began chitchatting as if they were old friends. "Now Mattie, I gotta go for a few days, so you hang on. I wanna see you and your big eyeballs wide open when I get back. Don't go fussing and causing trouble, just get some rest. Your gonna get a liver, you just wait. It is coming." I now stood right across from both of them, soaking up this beautiful moment. Matilda needed everyone rooting for her. She needed everyone telling her she was going to be okay. She needed to feel the love and strength that I felt when people talked about her.

I stood there feeling so much pride for my little Matilda but also so much sadness. Nurses know, they know when their patients are near the end. She wasn't just saying see you next week, she was saying goodbye.

understanding change

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Parker had some really hard moments during our visit to Montana. He had been anticipating the trip for months, he had been talking about going to visit since he returned to New York after Matilda's transplant, and he hasn't stopped telling us about all the adventures he had while he was there.

The night before the trip he could not sleep, his level of excitement and anticipation was so strong. And as we drove to Syracuse in the dark of the morning, he recalled the last trip - with Matilda in the ambulance. He was so young, but his memories are all there. Although he might not have been able to express his emotions as a two-and-a-half year old, he still felt them. As a four year old, all of those emotions came rushing back, and the grief it brought him was apparent.

He was not himself the entire trip.

Change in particular was really hard for him. His cousins looked older. His puppy was now a huge dog. My brother's kitchen was remodeled. All of those changes confused his memories and made him feel uneasy.

He didn't want to talk with anyone. Only choosing to whisper in our ears that things were different, and that he didn't know anyone. It was hard for us to watch. And I felt sad that he could not enjoy himself - that our relatives didn't get to see the Parker they know and love; that he missed out on what he has wanted for so long.

Parker was affected so strongly by what happened with Matilda. All of our lives were changed. And so, instead of getting upset or annoyed, we held him tightly. We told him it was okay. We showed him around and explained who people were. We told him that we loved him. That everyone loved him. And just as he began to feel comfortable, it was time to leave.

That is the most frustrating thing for me. I want my children to know and love their family. To know their houses, to play freely, and to open cupboards looking for food. I will never be okay with living so far apart because no matter how hard I try, I don't feel complete. And I know my kids feel the same way.

One day. One day, we will return back home.

makeover with studio montage

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

When my brother and sister-in-law asked me what I wanted for my birthday, I requested a pedicure or  haircut or something just for me. I had no intention of them going all out. But let me tell you, I was spoiled and it felt nice!

They teamed up with Studio Montage, who after hearing a little bit about Matilda, were very generous and excited to give me a complete day at the spa. Yep, you heard me, a complete MAKEOVER DAY at the spa!

My sister-in-law Aubrey and my two nieces picked me up with coffee in hand the morning after we arrived in Montana. It felt so emotional to see them after two years - when I left my nieces were girls, now they are clearly young women.

First off was a facial. It was 80 minutes long and the most relaxing event of my life. Taking care of my skin has fallen off my radar, but after this appointment I was feeling invigorated and ready to reconnect with a new appreciation for my skin. I was glowing to say the least.

The owner DeeAnna (who radiates goodness) has been doing my hair on and off for the past 15 years. So I gave her full rein and told her to do whatever she wanted with my broken locks - six inches came off and lots of fun layers were added. And, as she did her thing, I got to sit and talk with family. I got to catch up with my beautiful nieces and reconnect with their now more mature selves. I could not help but tear up. To feel so much love, to be back home, to be this spoiled - it felt so magical.

Once my hair was cut, they sent me back to the spa for a pedicure! I was smiling from ear to ear in disbelief that everyone was fussing over me and treating me like a queen.

My hair processed while we ate lunch, then it was dried and styled. My hair has never been this light in color, and I have to admit that I really love it. Some pieces are really blonde!

Just when I thought the day was over, they pulled me aside, waxed my brows, and did my makeup to finish the look. My mother had made her way down to the salon and stood in front of me holding back her tears. She looked at me as if I were the most beautiful thing she had ever seen. But, I felt the opposite, looking back at my family standing around in arms reach was beautiful. Being home was beautiful. And yes, being this spoiled was also very beautiful.

I never would have expected such a wonderful day, full of so much kindness and love. Studio Montage went above and beyond and undid those two years of self neglect. I can honestly say that I have never felt so fresh, so renewed, and so beautiful. It really was an opportunity of a lifetime and made me truly feel like a million bucks.

Although I was spoiled beyond measure, Studio Montage did not ask me to write about my experience nor did they pay me to tell you how wonderful they are. But if you are in Great Falls, Montana, I highly recommend you make an appointment with them! All opinions are my own.

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