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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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!

New Baby Traditions: Baby Guest Book

When Daisy turned 1 in September, I went through Baby Box. I arranged some photos of my pregnancy and Daisy through the year, collected a few crafts we (or really I) made with her little finger and footprints, and saved my most favorite of her tiny newborn clothes. The whole process is very bittersweet. You love seeing your baby grow, learn, and become a real person, but miss the tiny baby sounds and snuggles of infancy and wish time would slow just a little. I did the same with Jack. Their boxes are very much the same, except Daisy’s has a notable addition I wish I had for Giacomo’s. When Daisy was a newborn, we made her a Baby Guest Book.

Daisy's Guestbooks

When Giacomo was born, I took photos of him with every person who came to visit. Those photos were taken with my nice SLR camera and are saved out in the digital world. I did the same with Daisy, but I took it one step further and made the guest book by taking photos with a Fujufilm Instax Mini I borrowed from my niece for an instant picture and having each visitor write a little message for her. Some messages were as simple and sweet as “welcome to the world. I personally loved when children visited and left doodles (including a traced foot) and cute messages like “nice to meet you.” Then there were the longer notes that brought tears to my eyes, and one day they’ll do the same for Daisy. My family is big, so the books filled up quickly and now Daisy has a tangible (not digital) keepsake from each visitor she had the first few days she was born.

Some notes for Daisy

 

I wanted the photos to be protected by a cover sheet, so I bought 2 small 4×6 photobooks from Micheals. I cut white cardstock to 4×6 squares and filled each page with a blank square. After each photo was taken, I attached it to a 4×6 square with photo corners. Because the Instax photo is so small, there was ample room for a message next to the photo. I knew Daisy was going to be a girl and her name would be Daisy, so I designed the book covers to reflect her name and added some daisy stickers to the pages. For this baby, I will make the cover after we are home. I’ll also add some colored paper and maybe some decals within the book.

Simple Supplies

 

I got the idea from one of my girlfriends. Her book is styled a little differently than mine, but anyone can take the guestbook and run with it however s/he wants. For example, my girlfriend used a pretty journal instead of a photobook so the person writing had more space (and lines) for a message. I went to Micheal’s yesterday to get the materials for the books, and there are TONS of options for personal journals and books that can easily be used for this, so head out and make your keepsake!

My Co-Sleeping “Problem”

The other night at around 3am, Jack crawled into our bed and wiggled his way between me and Matt. This isn’t unusual. He does this almost every night. Daisy sleeps in our room too. She’s always snuggled up on my left and Jack to my right. My husband and I can barely move.

We never planned on co-sleeping, but when nursing, especially a colic baby, it sometimes just happens. I didn’t expect to love it either. Before, the idea of cramping into a tiny space and barely being able to move sounded less than appealing. But now, I think of how I can snuggle their tiny baby bodies and smell their sweet heads uninterrupted as they dream.

Isn’t that weird how some things change? Everything changes from enjoying a cramped sleeping space to the meaning of songs. Their crawling into our bed reminded me of the (very famous love) song “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” and how its meaning has completely changed for me. I remember when Armageddon was the blockbuster movie with the #1 love song sung by the main actress’s father. I distinctly remember an interview where Steven Tyler explained that he didn’t originally want to sing the song, but after seeing the movie and seeing his real life daughter cry to her in-movie father he was brought to tears and agreed to perform the song. When I was 13, I thought he just wanted to sing a song for his daughter’s movie. I didn’t realize how relatable he could see the lyrics as a parent.

Good Morning

I wake up to these silly faces every morning

This is intended to be a romantic love song, even the writer’s inspiration is a romantic one. I’ve heard it at school dances, on love song albums, and as many couples’ wedding song. But I think anyone who watches their baby sleep knows exactly what I am talking about. When my kids crawl into my bed, I watch them breathe and feel their little heartbeats while I snuggle them close, kiss them, and thank God for them every day. They won’t be sneaking in our room forever. Soon enough I won’t even be able to get a hug and kiss, or even a conversation without asking first. So I enjoy being cramped in my bed right now.

Sweet Dreams

And watch these sweet faces dream every night

But there’s a problem with thus and my big, silly, mom worry moves into my head. Baby #3 is coming very soon. Jack stays on my right and Daisy on my left. Where does #3 go when he or she wants to come in our room? Will I have to kick someone out? Will someone feel rejected? I only have two sides! I don’t want to miss any of them while I don’t have to. If you don’t ever co-sleep, this probably sounds ridiculous to you. I understand that. Before I had kids, even while I was pregnant with Jack, I knew we were not going to co-sleep. It was weird, and I liked my space while sleeping. But it just happened, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

PS – if you’re wondering how my poor husband feels about being squished in bed, I will not let him fool you. He’ll say the bed is too small and joke that he almost falls off the bed, but he’ll also panic if he wakes up and no one has crawled into bed. He’ll even offer to bring one of the kids in the room if they fall asleep on Jack’s bed together. This was my Valentine’s gift for him this year. The little mouse family are asleep in one bed with mommy and daddy mouse separated by little mouse babies. But at the end of the bed, their tails are touching. It was such a sweet reminder of our own nightly ritual. We know we can enjoy baby snuggles now because we always have each other anyway. My husband’s reaction to the gift was “we need to find a third baby muse to add to this,” so I know he is okay with it.

The Honeymoon is Over

We’ll be adding one more mouse to this soon

Mystery Machine Little Tykes Remake (An Eventful Summer)

It has been an insanely busy summer. We traveled a lot, and I spent a lot of time planning for a personal goal (I hope to have ready to launch in the next two weeks).  We went to New Orleans in early August, and a few weeks later we drove down to Florida and enjoyed the theme parks and Daytona.

New Orleans

Jack loved meeting his heroes, Mickey, Spongebob, and Shrek and Donkey. Daisy was less than thrilled about the characters, but had fun. We ended summer with Daisy’s first birthday. Oh I just can’t believe my baby girl is one!!

Florida

One thing I was able to do this summer in the craft realm was make this awesome Mystery Machine for Jack (and eventually Daisy). It was originally a pink and purple Little Tykes that my niece Myla long grew out of and donated to me.

Honestly, the hardest part about making this Mystery Machine was cleaning it because my hose was broken so I had to use a bucket of water. You have to take it apart to clean it well. All pieces come off easily except the tires. Instead of taking them off, I just tied bags around them.

Little Tykes Redo

After it is clean, just spray paint. For the tire wheels, eyes, and steering wheel, I sprays paint into a bowl and used a brush. Once all the pieces are dry, put it all back together. I made the Mystery Machine logo and flowers with my cricut and cut them from Oracle 651 vinyl.

Mystery Machine

Jack loved it so much he kissed it! So of course I dressed him up like Shaggy and had a mini photo shoot with it.

Jack Mystery Machine

Cute right? I hope your summer was wonderful!

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