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gift idea: creativity packs

Friday, December 19, 2014



One of the worst parts about living away from family is losing touch with my nieces (I have six). Two of them are pre-teen and trying to figure out what they would appreciate for Christmas was leaving my head spinning.

I ended up digging deep to think about what I liked when I was that age, what I thought would help them grow into themselves, and what I could gather locally*. The answer was to put together creativity packs. Here is what to include when making your own:
  • Fancy crayons, colored pencils, or real art markers. They aren't kids anymore - treat them to something special.
  • Notepads that feed a specific interest - a fashion sketchbook, diary, or engineering paper. Ask their parents what they are in to or encourage something new.
  • Unique extras - an unusual eraser, decorative pin, or cute bag. Sometimes being practical is the last thing a pre-teen needs to think about - they are still kids after all.
As for me and my holiday wish list, well, all I want for Christmas is a little quiet time with my arms wrapped tightly around my little family and nothing more. So I am taking next week off - Merry Christmas to me! And I will see you all back here Monday, December 29th with lots more shenanigans.



*Bonus points if you get everything from a university bookstore.

the last rite

Thursday, December 18, 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.

November 2nd, 2012 - the last rite



Surviving a liver transplant at six weeks old with only one percent of functional liver remaining is unlikely. I know this not just because the transplant team explained the unfavorable statistics, but because out of the 30+ families who have contacted me over the last two years none of the babies have survived.

I take great responsibly in caring for and listening to families who are going through what we did with Matilda. So as much as I had hoped and trusted in that feeling that everything was going to be okay in the end, the reality of the matter spilled onto my lap and the seriousness of the situation never left my side.

We called the priest to perform the last rites on Matilda. I was confident that if she needed to go home to heaven, she would. It wasn't about any of that. It was about celebrating the gift of the sacrament. If she was going to have to miss the sacraments of confirmation, communion, or marriage for that matter, then at least she would have this - the sacrament of the sick and dying. I wanted her to be bathed in the light. To be clothed in all things good. I wanted her to be so full of love that nothing else mattered. So full of faith that the surgeons felt her strength.

I knew the facts. I knew the reality. I knew that it wasn't our choice - that God had a plan. And I had made my peace with that. But I hadn't agreed to go without a fight. Matilda after all means "mighty in battle" and there was no doubt in my mind that she was strong enough to win this. She didn't have a sword, she didn't have a shield, she didn't even have a voice. But when I looked into her eyes, I knew she had faith. She told me of the love that she felt from heaven. She told me that everything that was happening was just the beginning. That what she was experiencing was about so much more.

We had been stripped of everything, but faith is everlasting.

As the priest was blessing Matilda, tears filled my eyes, and the room fell silent. I imagined a waterfall of spirit pouring onto my little baby and spilling out into the hallway. Her body was dying, but she was full of life.

The priest continued on in prayer, unfazed by the doctors that flooded the room. The liver was good, it had been removed successfully, and was on its way to New York. It was official. Matilda was getting a transplant in the next couple of hours. The priest smiled as he placed a hand over Matilda to finish the sacrament.

She was ready.

snow day

Wednesday, December 17, 2014



Parker had his first snow day and, to tell you the truth, it was the first snow day any of us have ever experienced. We didn't know what do with ourselves. A day off with nothing to do and no obligations. We were all giddy with excitement and decided to play in the snow - it only seemed right.

last minute stocking stuffer: tattoos

Tuesday, December 16, 2014



Maybe it is just me, but I always make sure that I have tattoo paper stockpiled because there is nothing easier to make or more exciting to get when you are a kid than a tattoo. The best part is that you can really use any digital art to customize them for an event, holiday, or mood.

Supplies: tattoo paper (we use this one), printer, digital media

Process: Making these could not be any easier. Select any design you want. We downloaded this Hipster Christmas set, sized the images to fit kid hands, and then just followed the directions that came with the tattoo paper.

Time: The most time consuming part of this is finding the design you want, other than that it only takes as long as it takes your printer to print.

And for other stocking stuffer ideas, check out Raise.com where you can buy and sell gift cards at a discounted price. So whether you are heading over to Michael's for craft supplies, checking out the toys at Target, or gifting a friend with a little something, something from Starbucks, Raise has it all.

feeling better

Monday, December 15, 2014



Matilda surprised us all and recovered from RSV without any complications. She is still on the mend, but is feeling so much better. Her energy is back, her determination is back, and her humor is in full swing. And I, well I, am relieved and hopeful that we can all stay healthy through Christmas.

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