Defining Love & Happiness

I planned to write a Valentine ’s Day blog about love, but I couldn’t. Instead I took pictures of my loves. I thought maybe I could find words by St. Patrick’s Day, but still, words did not come.  Instead I showed love with food on my husband’s and grandmother’s birthdays. I have been trying to find the words to write a lovely love blog, but I can’t.  I have been thinking about writing and how to write about love and happiness without sounding sappy or corny, and I’m bad at it. I’ve also been wondering why happiness is so boring. There are no great novels or wonderful movies about everyday love and happiness because it’s boring.  There’s always a happy ending, but what about the happy existence afterwards? All we ever want to see is the struggle up to the happiness.

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It is so easy to describe hate, anger, frustration. There are so many more words and combinations. But love is different. Love always sounds corny and cliché because we’ve heard it all before. There are only a handful of words I can use to describe the love I feel for my children, and that is no way the same as the love I have for my husband, or my mother and father, or my sisters, or my dog, or my friends, or even the love I feel for nature and animals, yet the language is the same. How can I describe it all differently?  I truly love all of these people and things, but in no way is that love the same.  I can go to a thesaurus and look up alternatives for “love,” but there is still no differentiation between kinds of love.

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Blush, brick, wine, burgundy, salmon, cherry, fuchsia, magenta, rose, maroon, pink, scarlet, rust. These are all distinct shades of red that are not interchangeable. A cardinal’s feathers are not the same shade or red as a glass of merlot. With colors it is obvious. We can see a difference.  But with feelings it is not.

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Why is it that we have dozens of names of colors and only one word for love?  There are actually no words.  It all sounds the same.  The language of love is boring, and likewise the language of happiness is corny. It’s actually very hard to be happy. It seems easy because we don’t have the same depth of language to express positive feelings. Everything sounds so cliche. When people are happy, they might seem brainwashed or in denial, especially during such volatile times in this world, in part because the common vocabulary used for happiness is much less varied than the weighted words of negative thoughts. It’s easy to explain how scared I might be of threats outside of my control, but difficult to explain how I can, at the same time, be happy and hopeful imagining my children making the world a better place. There are no shades of love and happiness to describe the in between time, the time when you’re scared, angry, blissful, and hopeful all at once.

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Then there are kinds of love. When I was a kid, there was a tree outside my home I climbed almost every day. I’d hide in the leaves for hours and read, or daydream, or eavesdrop on the conversations below. There was one spring when I’d sit up in my tree so regularly a family of birds nested just a few branches above me. When it was cut down, I was devastated. I went to my room and cried and cursed my family for killing my friend. It was a tree, not a person to talk to or pet to cuddle with, yet I was still so overcome with the loss my mom had to lie and say the tree men did it on accident and felt terrible just to calm me down. I am still sad that the tree isn’t there for my children to climb.

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How could that level of grief be caused by anything other than love? I loved my tree, I truly did. But how can I explain that love without sounding ridiculous when I have to use the same language I to describe the love of my children or the happiness my dog brings? I love my mother. I love my children. I love my house. I do not love all of these in the same capacity, but I am limited as to how to explain the difference.  I have been trying to find words to describe my different kinds of love and happiness without sounding like every other proud mom, wife, daughter, woman. I realize I am trying too hard.

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I will never find the words because I am no brilliant writer, but I can see the look of affection my children give each other the first thing every morning. I can smell the warmth of my small flower bed as I open my front door. I can feel the plush comfort of a blanket during a thunderstorm. I can taste my Mama’s pizzachene while hearing her sing lullabies to my babies.

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The problem with happiness is it can’t be described in a word or two. It is best described in a story, a photo, a color or feeling. Love and happiness are too good for words. True happiness and love transcends anything we can ever put into a language. I hope you enjoyed the photos that show my happiness!

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Baby Feet

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I am absolutely revolted by feet. The idea that there are people who have foot fetishes turns my stomach. The person who invented this is a damn lunatic.

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Feet are repulsive. I hate looking at them and I especially hate touching them. I know I’m not the only hater of feet. There are others out there like me who cringe away on beaches and in swimming pools.

But then there’s baby feet. Not just any baby’s feet, your baby’s feet. I know it sounds like a given, but even when you hate feet you love your baby’s feet. I didn’t think it was possible. My mom told me I’d be kissing my baby’s feet all the time. I told her she was disgusting. It turns out she was right and I was wrong. As gross as adult feet are, baby feet are that much more adorable. They are the sweetest part of a baby’s tiny body and oh so kissable.

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Whenever I hold my children, my hand naturally falls to hold a tiny foot. Daisy’s are so small, I can hold both in one hand. Her little tiny toes are smaller than peas and in constant need of kissing. Sometimes when I play with Jack I put my foot against his, and apparently the size difference is hilarious. The other day I put his foot against Daisy’s. It must have been the most amazing and funny things he’s ever seen. This time it was his foot that was bigger! He laughed and laughed while he touched her toes and tapped his foot against hers.

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My mom recently bought him dinosaur feet slippers. He stomped around the house roaring and growling at anything in his path. A few days later we stopped in the store for clothes and Jack spotted little pink dino slippers that matched his. He grabbed them from the shelf yelling “Daisy! Daisy!” and I couldn’t leave without them. Their matching dino feet must have been the second most hilarious thing he’s ever seen.

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At some point seeing Jack compare his feet to his sister’s hit me. His feet were once as small as hers. I could hold both of his in my hand. Now only one fits. I still kiss his tiny toes and hold his little foot, but those feet get bigger and bigger every day. I don’t know when his feet will no longer be cute to me, but that day will come (probably with athlete’s foot).

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Being a parent simultaneously freezes and quickens time. Some days Daisy is only four months old and Jack is only two years old. I worry so much about them meeting their developmental milestones. I try so hard to teaching and engaging with them making sure they are where they are “supposed” to be.  Plus I feel like I’ve known them forever. Life has adjusted to them, and I am in a comfortable space of understanding their needs. Then suddenly only becomes already. Jack is already two! I was just throwing his first birthday party and then all of a sudden I was planning the second. Daisy is already four months old. Didn’t I just take her home from the hospital yesterday?

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It’s both beautiful and heart wrenching watching them grow. Daisy is realizing she can move on her tummy if she kicks her legs hard enough. The other day Jack figured out how to climb the playground “rock wall,” something he couldn’t do two months ago. I want them to stay little, but I love seeing them discover new things. I’ll enjoy their littleness while I can. It feels slow but time is going quickly, and those baby feet won’t be as cute as they are now. I never thought I’d want to savor my time kissing a foot, but here I am soaking in every toe filled kiss in.

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At the Movie Theater Concession Stand Halloween Costumes

Halloween is over all ready. November 1 starts my unofficial boycott of Christmas. Not that I have anything against Christmas. I love it! But I’m sure like many others, I like to enjoy the fall and Thanksgiving, rather than rush into the holiday. It gets old by the time December 25th comes around.

So my boycott begins by again dwelling on Halloween. This year we were “At the Movie Theater Concession Stand.” The weather was beautiful this year. Jack joined in with Trick-or-Treating with his older cousins. I think he enjoyed the walking better than the candy, although he did dip into his bucket a few times during the walk. I took Daisy along too. Her costume was so good, most people didn’t even know she was there!

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Like last year, I made costumes for almost everyone so we could walk as a theme.  I based the theme off Daisy’s costume: the popcorn bucket. I saw a version of it on Pinterest and knew I wanted to do it months ago, but my version was a bit more extreme. My version was made with a felt blanket I painted as a popcorn bucket using stencils I made from my Cricut. I used tissue paper as the popcorn and glued it to the blanket and to a baby hat for daisy. I just wrapped the blanket around Daisy’s carrier and tucked it in the sides. Her little head stuck out but was covered with the popcorn hat. I put on some 3D glasses and it looked like I was just walking around with a giant tub of popcorn at the movies.

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Jack went as a movie ticket and Matt was the Box Office Ticket collector, both costumes made with cardboard, Cricut cut vinyl, paint, and ribbon. The “over the shoulder” type costume was good for Jack because it was easy to put on and take off when he was fussy.

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The rest of my nieces and nephew also joined the theme. I made 3 of their 6 costumes. I made Laila a cardboard Kit-Kat bar costume (I have a lot of cardboard on hand between boxes of diapers and wipes.) Olivia was Button candy, made with an old dress and painted Styrofoam balls. Myla was our cup of Coca-Cola, made from a small hamper, craft paper, paint, and vinyl. I especially liked her straw hat (complete with “Diet,” “Regular,” and “Other” buttons).

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The store bought costumes were cute too – Craig was also popcorn, Angelina was an M&M, and Jenna was Nerds. I think we made a really cute concession stand!

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Welcome Miss Daisy

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She’s here! She’s home, healthy, and oh so beautiful! I can’t believe she’s mine, that I made someone so pretty and sweet.  Giacomo adores her too. Before I had her I was so afraid that he would be resentful or upset because of the new baby and/or because of my surgery. I underestimated him for sure! The first thing he does in the morning is give her a kiss (if I’m lucky, I get one too, but she is #1 to him). I did cry, though, looking at how tall and grown he looked next to her. It didn’t help that he is so tall (he isn’t even 2 yet and is in 3T clothes). It’s so bittersweet, watching him grow, and now I get to have the emotional rollercoaster of mommyhood twice over with my little Daisy girl.

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When I first saw Daisy, I was in complete awe. I couldn’t believe that I made someone so perfect. I couldn’t hold her in my arms for a long time (the wait was much longer than when I had Jack), but I was able to touch noses with her little button nose, kiss her sweet soft cheeks, and laugh as she blew raspberries from her perfect plump lips. I know every mother thinks so, but I just couldn’t, and I still can’t believe how beautiful she is.

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My Daisy girl has been here a month and a half. But I feel like it’s been much longer. I feel like I’ve known her forever. I think because now I am constantly going. I’m pretty sure Jack and Daisy are in cahoots. Once one stops fussing the other needs my attention. It is tiring for sure, but never boring. And on those rare occasions where they both have naps in sync, the time is all the more blissful.

Mommyhood part 2 is much different. I remember spending most of my time with Jack holding, rocking, and soothing him, and on the rare occasions when he did sleep, I just watched him. It was a very sweet time, and it does not exist at all now! Not that I don’t want to hold Daisy all day and watch her sleep, but time is divided now. I have to put her down to play with Jack, and I have to make him wait when she fusses. I think he has adjusted better than I have. Jack has learned patience and he has not one ounce of jealousy in him, so I can tend to Daisy when I need to and he will wait for me to play with him. I also learned that my baby can cry for longer than a few seconds so I can finish feeding or changing my toddler.

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They are better at handling my divided time than me. I wish I could split apart and tend to them both all day. I’m sure that’s something all 2nd time moms think. But I knew this was coming, and it’s why I wanted to have children close in age. I knew they’d be better at adjusting than me because they are so young. I’m just anxious for the time when I have adjusted!

I took to using a baby carrier for Daisy. I tried with Jack but it didn’t work, I think because I didn’t have a “good” carrier. The one I have now is much more comfortable and made with small framed people in mind, so it’s much easier to use. Plus I get more done, and it’s a lot easier than lugging out the double stroller. The only downside I see is that Daisy isn’t as visible for pictures. (I know that sounds silly, but you know how I love my photos!) This weekend we went pumpkin and apple picking. I have some adorable shots of Jack but Daisy was too tucked away for pictures. (In reality, I wouldn’t have taken her out of her stroller for a picture, I’m just being whiney).

The night before Daisy was born I wrote them each a letter telling them how much I love them. Up until a minute ago, both of my babies were sleeping, something that rarely happens. But now I hear Daisy, so I guess blog and journal done for now. I should have been cleaning my house, as it is a complete disaster, but instead I thought a few minutes of journaling and blogging would be nice because I hope one day both Daisy and Jack can read the letter I wrote and look through my blog and see how much I love them.

Using Transfer Paper to Make Freezer Paper Shirts

I went on a bit of a shirt making kick. I made maternity shirts, the baby shirts, and shirts for my husband, father, father-in-law, and brothers-in-law for Father’s Day. I learned quite a bit making them, and I like how they all turned out.

I made the baby a shirt for the 4th of July and a Finding Nemo inspired shirt, even though we probably won’t get to the movies to see Finding Dory with him.

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I also went a little crazy with Maternity shirts. I also made use of some glittler iron-on material I had for my heart and NJ shirts. My favorite is the watermelon shirt. The watermelon is in the Simply Charmed  cartridge for Cricut.

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I even made a Goonies shirt for my future little Goonie. I downloaded The Goonies font on Dafont. I think that one is Jack’s favorite.

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I created the Hockey Dad silhouette in Photoshop and uploaded it to design space. It’s my favorite! For the vintage looking dad/grandpa shirts, I found the Marcelle Script font on DaFont.com. It downloads with letters and different style swooshes.

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The thing with making freezer paper shirts is that it is really annoying putting all the tiny pieces in the proper place. (Especially with the “worn vintage” look of Marcelle Script, as well as characters like e, o, g, p, a, 4, 8, etc). When working with vinyl, most people usually use contact paper, plastic sticky paper used to line shelves, to transfer my cuts onto the surface. The problem is freezer paper isn’t actually sticky like vinyl. You have to iron the freezer paper onto the shirt for it to stick. Heat + plastic = bad,  so contact paper is out. Transfer tape is actually made to transfer vinyl to walls and objects, but a lot of brands are also plastic. I wasn’t sure if transfer paper would word or if the glue would ruin the shirts, but I figured I’d test it out and see. I made sure to get transfer paper made out of actual paper, not plastic.

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1 I cut the designs on the Cricut shiny side down on the mat. 2 I placed the transfer paper on the whole design 3 and rubbed well. 4 Figured out placement of design, 5 Then I ironed the design on low, dry heat. 6 After I removed the tape, 7 I ironed the design again with parchment paper, and it worked like a charm!

I was actually able to reuse the tape and transfer the design to 6 different shirts. I am sure I could have transferred more, but I only made 6 shirts at a time. The stickiness tape did not change much either. In fact, the transfers were easier the more I used the same piece.

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It seems obvious,  but I learned that it’s a lot harder to paint on a dark shirt than on a lighter colored shirt. I expected to have to use a few layers of paint for the dark shirts, but not as much as I actually used.  I think I’ll stick to painting designs on bright and light colored shirts, and using heat transfer vinyl on dark shirts.

We’re having a Daisy!

Recently we had an abnormal blood test come back for the baby, so we had to have a few more screening blood tests done. They all came back great, and I finally did get back the baby’s gender. I wasn’t going to find out, but when they called with the results and everything was fine, I was so excited I didn’t really care if I knew or not so I just let the nurse tell  me. We are having a little girl! I was so happy that everything was OK and my baby girl is coming I just started crying and had to hang up the phone. Then I headed to the craft store to get some daisies.

We always said if we had a girl, we’d name her Daisy. I bought a bunch of daisies from Lowe’s and set them up on our kitchen table with my Daisy figurines around it and “Daisy Cutter” on loop. I told Matt there was a surprise at home for him, and as soon as he saw the daisies he knew we are having a girl!

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I decided since I majorly disappointed my mom with my fake gender reveal, I’d do a smaller, real version for her. I bought a tiny round wooden box and painted it yellow and green with pink and blue polka dots. I printed out a simple tag to tie to the lid to open for the reveal. I left a giant pink fabric daisy inside. Had Daisy been a boy, I’d have filled it with blue confetti.

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Everyone was so excited for another little girl in the family, especially the kids.

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Today we had the 20 week ultrasound, and everything looks great! We can’t wait to meet our little Daisy!!

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We Haven’t Found Out the Gender Reveal

Happy April Fools! It’s no secret that I like to bust my family’s chops. I’m kind of surprised that they didn’t see this coming. Every since my family found out that the baby’s gender could be determined by a blood test much sooner than an ultrasound, they’ve been hounding me about finding out if Giacomo will have a brother or sister and having a gender reveal party.  They have been convinced that I already know the baby’s gender. At my last visit, my mom came to the Dr with me only to be disappointed. The results weren’t in yet. She convinced herself that me and my Dr are in cahoots and we do in fact know the gender. We don’t, but because it’s April Fool’s Day I had a gender reveal anyway, only we used white balloons instead of colored balloons to reveal…nothing.

Now I’m not so mean. I did call my Dr. today to see if the results came in, but they still haven’t. We didn’t find out about Giacomo, and I still don’t know if we are going to find out about baby #2, but we did have fun pretending we would.

 

Jack’s Big Announcement Photoshoot

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Jack finally spilled the beans! He will be a Big Brother in September! We tried to let Lilu be part of the announcement pictures also, but she was just eating the jelly beans.

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Oh well. I made the signs with some paint and my Cricut. The eggs were from Target, and I just used crayon to write on them. I had a great time making them even though I don’t know what I’m going to do with them now, maybe put them in the new baby’s memory box.

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When I found out, it was during one of the few snow storms we had this year. Matt was outside shoveling, so I left a note on the door that said “You make me sick!” He came in saying “What’d I do? and I told him to open the note. Inside read “Because you knocked me up.” He already had a hunch that I was pregnant anyway, and we celebrated with him drinking some wine and me having some ginger ale.
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I’m 14 weeks along right now. It still feels surreal, and I am a bit nervous still.  Jack is and this baby will be a Rainbow Baby, a term I only recently learned.  A Rainbow Baby is a baby born after a family has suffered a miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal death or infant loss. These babies are rainbows after terrible storms. Even though I am passed the “safe zone,” I am still worried. (I have gone through two miscarriages, and it was terrible. I cannot imagine the pain that accompanies full-term loss). I have been trying not to worry too much though. I believe that keeping in a positive state of mind and thinking good thoughts while pregnant will mean a happy thinking baby, so here’s to optimism and wonderful thoughts. We can’t wait to see who has been growing inside me all this time!
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Still Sick

I have officially been sick for three weeks. Antibiotics did nothing. I was told by my doctor’s office that this illness could last five weeks! At least I’m over the hump. My nose is stuffed, I’m coughing constantly, my ears are clogged, my head is throbbing, and I’m exhausted.

The worst part is poor Jack is sick now, too. He’s not as bad as I am, and antibiotics are working for him, thank goodness! Chicken soup is always best for a cold, so I figured out a way to get him to have some soup. Broth in a bottle. He loves it! Pretty clever if I do say so myself.

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Giacomo loves his chicken soup!

Let’s hope we get healthy soon! I’m pretty mad that there’s been such beautiful weather and I’ve been stuck inside, miserable.

Don’t Chew on Jesus, The Joys of Stock Photography, and Other Reasons to be Grateful

2015 was a difficult year. I suffered more than one loved one having passed, I had terrible separation anxiety from Giacomo, my father had a serious health scare, and the year ended with a such devastating loss for my young niece. I am still too upset over some of these to really talk about them openly. I realized though, that these tragedies really didn’t define the whole year. A lot of them happened so quickly together and at the very end of the year that they overwhelmed my memories of 2015. The reality is that 2015, like most years of our lives, had its ups and downs. It was actually a wonderful year. We got to see Giacomo grow and learn (I am only beginning to understand how wonderful it is to be his mom), we celebrated an the amazing birthday of my beautiful cousin (a milestone many did not think she would make), we took an amazing vacation, and we spent a lot of time with family and friends making beautiful memories. There are some things that will never have a bright side, like the loss of a child or a dear friend, but if I never stopped to appreciate my son’s smile, my nieces and nephew’s humor, or the memory of a friend’s laughter, I would be in a much darker place.
All the ups and downs of the year made me realize it was time for me to make a change. I saw this quote, and realized how completely  true it was.
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So I am ready for a new chapter. I decided I want to focus more on my teaching. I want to do something that empowers and helps people, and at this point in my life the best way I can is through teaching. Today was my last day at my marketing job. I was everything at once. Scared, nervous, happy, and excited. This was not a decision I took lightly and it was not easily made. It’s done now and I can’t help but think I did the right thing.
When I realized that I forgot the joy of my year, I decided to make another change, a new resolution. I hope it will remind me to appreciate all I have been blessed with throughout the year. I got the idea here. The point is to document something you are grateful for every day. Obviously, we are all grateful for our family, our home, our opportunities, but for me the point here is to try and see the little things. For example, I am grateful for over hearing conversations with a one year old “We don’t chew on Jesus.” (He was actually chewing on St. Jude, but whatever).
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Don’t chew on Jesus

Today, on my last day of work, I was grateful for stock photography. I left this gem in my drawer for the next worker to find. I only wish  I could be there to see the reaction.
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It’s not something I plan on publicly sharing, but I still encourage everyone to try this exercise. I write my private journal with Penzu, and I made a separate journal just for my once a day grateful posts. Even if a daily journal is too much, try a regular journal (it doesn’t even have to be a “grateful” one). I hope you all have a wonderful year, and I hope I can make you smile at least once this year!

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