DIY Dress Up Wardrobe

I haven’t blogged in way too long, so I decided to catch up with some of my favorite projects. The first being a wardrobe for all their dress up clothes.

My kids love playing dress up. Truthfully, love dressing the up too. Dress up clothes are so much better now than they were when I was a kid. I remember itchy, stiff outfits. But now the costumes are comfy and wearable anywhere. They had so many and keeping them in a toybox was not working out. I saw some dress up wardrobes, but I have to make everything more complicated than it needs to be by “making it my own.”  I also have the habit of thinking “that is too much money when I can just do it myself.” Normally I am wrong and I should have just spent the money, but with this project I definitely saved a lot. All in all, I only paid between $30 and $40 for exactly what I wanted. It is a lot less expensive than the wardrobes I spotted online and holds a lot more costumes.

I am a big fan of refurbishing furniture, so I almost always try to get non-fabric furniture from the Navy-Marine Coprs Relief Thrift Store or the Habitat for Humanity Re-store. The dress up wardrobe was actually a TV entertainment center I scored for $5! I painted it with paint I already had from other projects.

I used a shower tension rod for the clothes hanger. I attached a plastic door mirror to the other one side of the wardrobe, but that area would often get crowded with other toys so I moved it to across the wardrobe. (Those mirrors are cheap, not breakable, and are great or kids room – from the dorm sales at Target).

I moved the VCR shelf to the bottom compartment and although they were very thick and probably not a breaking hazard, I still removed the glass on the bottom doors. I put the foldable storage boxes the costumes were stored in at the bottom compartment to house accessories, and some command hooks on the side of the wardrobe to hang any other accessories. One thing I would not have done again is pay so much attention to the back. I used a pretty damask paper as a backdrop to the inside of the wardrobe, but you can never see it because it is so filled with costumes. Oh well. Maybe the kids will enjoy looking at the pattern when they play “hide and seek” and somehow fall into Narnia at the back of the wardrobe.

A Vatican of Cardinals

A few weeks ago I was sitting alone in our back room, in front of my Christmas tree, just grieving. I was very sad thinking of all the people I love so much who aren’t with me anymore. I was missing my grandparents, my uncles, my cousins, and my friends who have all passed on. I just miss them all so much.  I remembered a Christmas years ago, I was a little girl and crying with my mom while we missed my uncles, wishing they were with us.  This felt very much like it did that year – I felt like a little kid again with this gigantic grief that I couldn’t handle or put into words.

I don’t know why but suddenly I stood up and looked out the window. In my rock pit and in the trees behind my house were several cardinals. I had never seen more than a pair together before, but here spread across my yard and trees were at least 5 male and 5 female cardinals, maybe more. They were hopping and flying from the ground to several different branches, so I couldn’t get a definite number, but there were definitely at least 10. I was suddenly so happy.  The logical part of my brain said it is winter, cardinals are not at all rare, this is a coincidence. The other part of my brain said yes, that may be true, but I had never seen so many at once. And some part of me had me stand up to look out the window right then, when my heart was missing everyone so deeply, to see all those birds who are said to represent lost loves ones. Who are supposed to remind us to keep their spirits alive in our hearts.  Who may as well have been saying “we are here, we love you.”

I tried to take a few photos, but the window screen and the width of space the birds took up made my photos a little blurry and without all the birds in the same frame. I love the photos I did manage to get though, and I quickly sent them to my husband, mom, and sisters. It was the little sign from heaven we all needed.

I found out that there are many names for a group of cardinals, and one is called a Vatican. I thought my Mama would like that, so I decided I will only be calling multiple cardinals a Vatican. Part of my resolution this year is to write more, so I figure that on the anniversary of the day my Mama left us, I will write here about the day I feel she and some other loved ones sent some birds to my yard to help lift my spirits. I hope I can keep up, write more, and be happy more. Until next time, enjoy this pair cardinal from that day.

Back to School Blues

I have a cloth hammock that envelopes your entire body and can hide you from the outside world. Usually the second I even think of going on it the kids crawl in on top of me (they don’t ever do that to Matt, btw). I told them they couldn’t bother me because they’re all wet from playing on their waterslide. Summer vacation will be officially over and I just want to lay here and listen to their giggles and chatter while they run from the water to the tent set up from last night’s failed “camping” attempt. Really though, I don’t want them to lay with me because I don’t want them to see me cry. It feels like have been crying for days.

Alone time generally ends like this, but I’m ok with that right now.

Another school year is starting. Everything moves so much faster when you have little humans changing quickly right before your eyes.  You realize how fleeting time is, how they’ll never be this small ever again. How you are their favorite person but soon enough you will be an afterthought. The start of Kindergarten especially reminds moms that their baby is growing up.

 I said to Daisy “I can’t believe you are getting so big so fast! Kindergarten means you’re officially a big kid!”

 “Yeah,” she replied. “I’m going to miss being a baby.”

I am going to miss it too, princess. It’s hard to let go.

But I am not just letting go of one baby. Giacomo is going into 1st grade, and while he was in Kindergarten last year, because of COVID he learned virtually from home. I was there to help him navigate his lessons, learn new skills, apply himself in his schoolwork. So even though Jack is a “big kid” going into 1st grade, for me it feels like I am letting two of my babies go for the first time.

Moms have been sending their kids off to school forever. We all have the same worries. Will they make friends? Will they do well academically? Will they miss home? Will they get lost? Will they like it?  Did I send them in with enough to eat? Did I give them a big enough water bottle? Did I prepare them for bullies or awkward situations? Did I instill enough values that will make them be the kind, helpful kid? Did I make sure they know how much I love them?

These are anxious thoughts I knew I would have since the first time I left my kids to go to work. I was prepared for these thoughts. I saw them coming. However, I have NOT been prepared to let 2 children go at once. Even worse, I have not been prepared for the other massive fear I and so many other moms have. The fear of stupid COVID.

I know. I’ve heard the arguments before. “Kids only get mild symptoms.” “It has a 99% survival rate.” “Death in kids is rare unless there are underlying conditions.” Underlying conditions. Conditions like my youngest daughter’s, one that is normally manageable and changes her life in no real, dangerous way except for some medication, breathing treatments a few times a day, and a trip to the pulmonologist twice a year. She still is just as smart, as playful, as sweet, as curious, as silly, as innocent as any other child. Except now if she does get sick, her illness will be brushed aside with a handwave and “not really count” in the eyes of people who are uncomfortable with confronting something dangerous. 

Now, on top of my regular mom worries, I worry about the safety of my children. It is overwhelming. We seriously considered home schooling, but it isn’t feasible or fair. Jack and Daisy want to go to school, to make friends, to learn in a new environment from someone other than mom.  They are so excited, and I am excited for them. But when I think about handing them over and entrusting their safety and wellbeing to someone else, it is physically painful.

But I am trying. I am hopeful. I know that my children deserve to get back to normal, even if normal now looks a little different than it used to. And they are ready. They are aware and responsible. They are brave and eager. This year they will learn new skills, absorb new information, make new friends, and I will learn to let go a little more. I will miss them being babies, but I am so excited to see them showcase all the things they learn. And I hope one day, when they are sad to see their own babies grow and go to school, they will appreciate how much weight their mom had in her head when her babies skipped off to school for the first time, carefree and ready to take on the world.

Here in My Heart

It has been 6 months since I lost my Mama. I have been trying to write something about her, about her life, her strength, her light, her influence on so many people, but it has been impossible. I’ve written before about the difficulties we face in adequately expressing love with words. I’ve never felt more right about my own thoughts. I am pretty good at writing physical descriptions of settings and people. I can fabricate a fairy tale plot to entertain my kids. I but now when I try to really memorialize the most influential person in my life, the woman who taught me everything truly important, the person I most want to emulate, I come up blank. I sat here for God knows how long just looking at the phrase “it has been 6 months since I lost my Mama.” The words did not fly from my fingertips. It has been just me staring here. Blank. “Lost.”

As I finally start writing this I realize how lost it really feels without Mama here. She was the rational one. The one who always loved. The one with a guiding voice. The one who always saw the best in people. The one who could teach herself to crochet the most intricate patterns just by looking at an example. The one who could easily grow an over abundance of vegetables just to give away whatever she could to anyone who smiled as she walked through the neighborhood. The one who could bring back to life the most wilted flower, propagate it, then replant it in it’s new home. The one who could cook anything. The only one whose sauce the finicky five year old me would eat. The one who loved to laugh because her thick accent hid her sarcasm enough to confuse its recipient. The one who could sing any infant to sleep. The one who stood strong in her faith, even when everything around her was crumbling. The one with folksy remedies. The one with ancient fairy tales. The one who our whole world centered around. Who we orbited for every occasion, event, and holiday. The only one whose judgment really mattered. The rational one. The one who always loved.

I know I am not the only one who feels so lost without my Mama. But we all have to try to find our way in our own way. I have been trying my best to be more and more like her every day. I am trying to be patient.  Am trying to think the best in people. I dug out my old knitting needles and crochet hooks, and while I can’t copy patterns by sight, I am almost finished with a whole blanket.

I planted some herbs, fruits, and vegetables outside. The birds keep eating my strawberries and the rabbits are eating the parsley and squash blossoms, but the basil and sage are abundant, there are several green tomatoes budding, and one green pepper! I started walking through my own neighborhood, and maybe one day I’ll also grow enough tomatoes to give out.

I planted some flowers and shrubs and potted a few succulents. Some of my shrubs were not supposed to be in full sun, but the others are thriving and my roses are blooming. I overwatered about half of my succulents, but am attempting to propagate from some leaves.

I am trying to cook, and pray, and laugh as she would. I found a book about Italian folklore and another about Italian folk magic and am trying to remember where old stories are crossing into our family traditions.

I’m trying. I’m hoping. I’m sad. But every time I feel a connection when learn a new stitch, or grow a new plant, read one of the old stories, or hear some old Italian music, I feel one step closer to being just a little more like the woman who has always been our “Queen Bee.” I hope my baby steps are making her proud.

Moana always reminded me of my relationship with my Grandmother. Having someone with such kindness, love, encouragement and faith in you (while cracking a few jokes) was the best thing my and Moana’s grandmother could give. I felt the pain Moana felt when saying goodbye, and took comfort in knowing there is nowhere I could be where she will not. My sweet friend Bridget knew how I felt about the movie and my Mama, and she gave me this beautiful print of Moana and her Gramma Tala. I keep it here next to one of my favorite pictures of her with me and my sisters, where it reminds me to carry her “here in my heart.”

Happy Birthday to Me

Happy birthday to me! I guess? I was never big on my own birthday. There might have been a year or two somewhere when I completely forgot it was coming. This isn’t really a milestone birthday or anything, but it is the first one to make me sad. Because I’m in that official “middle age” bracket.” Because it is the first without my Mama. Because I might be the least accomplished person I know. Because I was supposed to do XY and Z by now, but have not.

Because when I was young, I made the mistake of listening to people tell me I was young and unaware. That I needed life experiences to have insight, that I needed to know more. Beause now I am in that middle space where I am supposed to be invisible and content. I am not yet wise but I know too much to be innocent.

Because I have spent so much time holding back, trying to plan and know more. Because very often I planned planned planned only to let the plan fall through or the moment pass.  

So I’d like to resolve to make my sadness motivation. To just dive in. To not plan so much. To try. To trust that I don’t need to experience it all to have experience. To be willing to learn and grow and stay curious. To remember all flowers grow at their own pace, and so will people. To honor my Mama with every passing day. To continue to forget my age. 

I’ll start by appreciating the beauty of fallen pink petals while we can (in spite of the eye-stinging pollen they emit), because they’ll be green leaves tomorrow.

I am happy young people are not listening to older people who tell them they are too young to know. We are all too young to know. Sometimes I worry that my spark is gone. I hope if it has been snuffed out, my wick isn’t so burnt out that it can’t be lit again. Although I guess if my wick is burnt out I can always be put on a candle warmer. I’m sure the wax still smells good.

Find Joy in Spring

Tulips lucky enough to avoid the jaws of squirrels

When I started this blog, it was a space for me to pull happiness into the world. In real life, I am not nearly as upbeat and positive as I wish I was. I am actually very cynical, suspicious, and I expect the worst in most situations, but I am trying my best to be more positive. That is why it was so important to me that My Asterisk Life stayed a positive space. Even if no one ever reads a single post, I know whatever I have floating around is happy and safe. Life is really hard. There are terrible and tragic things happening every day, and I want a place to escape.

But over the last year I worried, is it even appropriate to have a happy space? The world seemed to be saying no. Even if I did want to use my blog as a space to reflect on the sadness of the last year, I couldn’t. Some people have the natural ability to articulate their feelings. They can beautifully put into words the pain they feel, and when we read their works we feel a connection. We relate to their pain, we understand where they are coming from, we may feel satisfied knowing we are not alone. I am not one of those people. When I am sad, I am at a loss for words. Nothing comes out and everything is blank. Or, even worse, if something does come out I say the wrong thing. I say the first idea that has come into my head without articulating the nuance of my sadness. Then I am overanalyzing and over thinking my descriptions, worried I have made someone else upset or have come off as stupid. So no, I won’t write sad things, or at least if I do I will try my best to find he light in the sadness (“If there’s a shadow in your life then there’s sunshine”).

My birthday is tomorrow. I’ll be entering the new bracket when I fill out my age in surveys. The actual “middle age.” My life is different than what I thought it would be by now, but I like it. I am blessed. I am learning new things about myself. I am finding out how complicated it is to be human. To be happy and sad and fulfilled and yearning and anxious and worried and content and curious and excited all at once. It’s a complicated beautiful thing this life we have.

I’d like to continue to share with you some things I find beautiful. Like my sweet Mama’s recipes, adventures with my family, crafting trial and errors, and some other musings I have. I’ll start with my flowers who have bloomed this spring in spite of the bunnies and squirrels digging up and eating the bulbs of their neighbors. The hyacinths are my favorites because they smell so amazing. I with they’d last a little longer before toppling over. Thank you for reading so far! I hope the rest of your day is filled with joy.

The sweet smells of spring

Write Down those Baby Sayings!

Time with babies flies like crazy. I’ve blogged less and less, but that’s mostly because I have less time to edit and proofread rather than less time to want to write. I do keep a few journals with an app on my phone: one for general journaling, one for my daily grateful thoughts, and one for quotes that I hear throughout the day and I don’t want to forget. I got the idea to write down quotes from one of my dearest friends, and I’m so glad I picked up on her habit. I write anything ridiculous I hear from adults, and I also keep note of the funny things the kids say. Now that the kids are getting bigger, I love seeing how their language skills are improving and laughing at what they once were. I have an ongoing list of Giacomo and Daisy “isms,” and soon I’ll be adding a Daphne-isms list.

Here’s some Giacomo and Daisy isms to brighten your day:

Mail Pizza = Delivered pizza
Red store = Target
Blue store = Lowes
Man store= Home Depot
The Man Show = Fraiser
Bird store – Wawa
Squeeze = water enhancers (like MiO)
Dinosaur Movie = Land Before Time movies
Real Dinosaur Movie = Jurassic Park
Good T-Rex and Bad T-Rex = Jurassic World
Blah Blah Blah = Hotel Transylvania

Aside from working and babies I’m also happily busy expanding Asterisk Gifts LLC. I’ve decided to make it possible to order and make payments from Myasterisklife.com to make it a bit easier, but you can also follow my Instagram and/or Facebook account to see some things I’ve been working on or to place an order. Happy summer everyone!

A Year Ago

This time last year I was worried about your siblings and how their worlds would change forever. I was excited for them to meet you. I wondered your gender. What you’d look like. How you’d act. If I’d miss being pregnant. If you’d enjoy being born.

I can’t believe it’s been a year. Your siblings adore you (so does everyone who meets you). You look like a combination of both your siblings with an adorable look of your own.

You’re clingy, and sweet, and give silly kisses. You love to laugh. You try to have full conversations with anyone who will listen. You don’t crawl. You hop like a frog.

A year ago you were a sweet mystery. Today you are my sweetheart. I am still worried and wonder what you will be like as time.goes on. Next year I’ll be reflecting on how much you’ve grown, physically and mentally. I’ll be excited about your achievements, worried about the world around you, and as impossible as it seems, even more in love with you than ever.

I love you my Daphler Doodle. I can’t believe you’re 1 tomorrow.

Daisy Singing in the Rain

I think most of us are in agreement that this summer was pretty crappy weather wise. It was either a thousand degrees or raining. Most of us are glad it’s finally fall and some clear, crisp weather should be on the way. While she hasn’t specifically told me, I don’t think my Daisy is one of these people. Not only did she not mind the rainy weather, she enjoyed it. She’s sit and watch at the window and sing “Rain, Rain, Go Away,” but if I’d let her, she’d gladly play in the rain.

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After the rain, the kids insisted that it was OK to “splash in muddy puddles.” (Thank you, Peppa Pig). They’d put on their raincoats and too big boots and try to see how high they could get the water and mud to splash up their legs.

Even better than the puddles was the rainbows afterwards. If not for their excitement, I’d have probably missed 90% of the rainbows. One of the perks of being a parent if rediscovering the everyday things we might take for granted with age.

Jack likes all the after rain fun, but playing in the rain isn’t really his style. He’d rather be dry and comfortable inside. Daisy loves the rain. She laughs and squeals and dances in the rain, singing her heart out. I love watching her outside. She loves the rain so much that if she hears someone in the shower, she demands on joining in so she can play in the falling water.

Daisy’s 2nd birthday was a few weeks ago. The plan was to have her party as our final summer bash around my parents’ pool. Her favorite movie is Hotel Transylvania, and the newest movie in the HT series is a summer vacation. I thought it was a perfect theme. Instead it rained. It was only fitting that my baby who loves the rain have her birthday party rained out. She still danced with a pink umbrella and ran out on the lawn in the drizzle. She didn’t care that I wouldn’t let her swim, but she did care when I saw lightning and tried to get her to come inside.

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The other day it was raining as we left my parent’s house. Matt took Daisy and Jack to the car and me Daphne. Daisy, instead of going to the car, ran to the middle of the lawn so she could dance, spin, and touch the rain. I heard her singing to herself as she twisted her tiny hands around in the air, catching the drops. As we ran for cover, she was just enjoying the weather. Matt ran over laughing and scooped her up, but I wish I thought of taking a little video or a photo of her pure joy.

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Right now, she is all joy and happiness. Her biggest concern is when her brother won’t share a toy or I can’t instantly pick her up because I’m nursing her baby sister.
Why don’t we all dance in the rain? I know we see those cheesy pillows and picture frames that tell us to, but we never actually do it. It must be nice to actually dance with abandonment without first thinking, I should just let go and not care that my clothes are muddy, my hair is wet, or what others see. Even when we do let lose, it’s a conscious decision to ignore societal norms, not a natural, childlike decision.

All I was thinking of was getting into the car and out of the rain. All Daisy thought of was the feeling of the raindrops on her skin. I hope she never loses this carefree part of herself. Of course at some point she’ll become more wary and cautious and care what people think, but I hope not too much. I hope she’ll always find joy in feeling the rain on her face, not caring that other people don’t like to get wet. My little Daisy, keep marching to your own beat. Keep singing and dancing in the rain.

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Welcome Baby

It’s been 2 months since we met our new little baby. 39 weeks of being Team Green and wondering who would be joining our family. I painted my nails pastel pink and blue, made a gender neutral reveal shirt, and pulled out all the neutral baby clothes I had. Of course, the day of my c-section several nurses and even the doctor slipped. “Two boys and a girl will be nice,” and “So you’re having a boy?” I was a bit disappointed, not by the gender, but because I waited all that time and they ruined my surprise.

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Then in the delivery room, Matt looked over the curtain to announce, “Oh! It’s a girl!” The staff laughed at their joke and teased if he was sure about that. So I was surprised after all. I saw our little girl and was amazed by how tall, alert, and perfect she was. She reminded me so much of Jack. It felt like meeting an old friend. I still didn’t know what her name was, though. I thought I’d see the baby and know her name, but it didn’t work like that. We were between a few names. Maybe she’d be Alice. Or Lydia. Lilly? Nurses and my mom thought she was another Angela or Angelica because she looked like a little angel. It took almost 3 days before we decided. She is a Daphne.

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Our perfect little Daphne Jean with her big, soulful eyes and tiny bald head is the perfect addition to our family. Jack and Daisy adore her. I have to stop them from kissing her too much. Sometimes they try to hug her a little too hard. But making sure the kisses and hugs are gentle is the best kind of “problem” to correct between siblings.

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Daphne is very strong. She was able to hold her head up quickly and tries to move while on her belly. We are lucky she sleeps through the night. But during the afternoon/evenings is another story. I have had to cut dairy out and she is on medicine. Anyone who knows my love of cheese knows how had it is for me, but knowing she is even just a little more comfortable makes it worth it. I’ll give up cheese forever if it means she isn’t in pain. She coos and laughs and makes me remember how sweet spending time with a baby feels.

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I forgot the smallness of a newborn. How their cries sound like little cats. How snugly their bodies are when they are curled on your chest. I am both joyful and sad, because this will be my last baby. My last snugly little smush I’ll nurse to sleep and watch grow.   So I am trying my very best to enjoy my life with all 3 babies. It’s overwhelming. It’s chaos. It’s never quiet, or clean, or relaxing. But it’s also never boring. Right now is one of the rarest of all experiences. They are all napping at once!

View More: http://momentsbymarie.pass.us/daphne-newborn

I should be picking up toys and folding laundry, but I wanted to write about Daphne instead. The laundry never ends, and I figure I have at least a few more years of chaos before my house is in real order anyway. I just want my little squish to know that even while running after two “big” kids and constantly nursing her, I still wanted to write to my small blogosphere about her and how much I just adore her. I’m sure when she has her own squishes, she’ll understand what a feat this is!

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