Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Getting Rid of the Body? What Do YOU Say?

What would you like to happen to your body after your death? Would you prefer to be buried, cremated or have your body donated to science?

So...morbid I know, but timely. I recently completed the Last Will & Testament and Living Will I'd been putting off since, uh- we started breeding. I never gave serious thought to this sticky stuff before our children came into the picture. :::shudder:::
Photo Credit
Now that our lil' darlings are in the world, it's important to me to get all this icky biz outta the way. I'm shooting to leave some kind of a legacy instead of a hassle, for sure. Lofty goal, but anyway...

Obviously, when this legal mumbo jumbo comes up- well, I'd be DEAD, so- that will probably a drag for my family (she said with shifty eyes). Not trying to make die time any more of a downer, you know? I don't want to leave my sweeties with difficult decisions in regards to what to do with- the body.

When you complete your last wishes, there's a section to specify what you want done with your remains. This is a no-brainer for me- pun intended.
Photo Credit
I ain't goin' in no steel-lined wooden box! Ew.

It's a personal decision for everyone, but the notion of being stuffed full of carcinogenic chemicals (that will eventually leech into the earth), shoved in a box and left to take up space just doesn't sit well with me. Bleh.

I love the idea of a "green"or "natural burial," where you can go straight into the earth- to become food for living creatures, to become a TREE for Pete's sake. If you've never heard of this new movement, you've gotta check it out here. How COOL is this?!? That's what I'm talkin' bout!
Be a Tree
Instead of visiting ole' Ma at some creepy tombstone, go climb her- as a TREE! So rad. I even found this awesome Forest Cemetery here in Pennsylvania. What a beautiful concept- to walk among a forest of trees that have grown from the nourishment of those who have passed. That's just lovely to me, a lot more romantic than a bunch of space wasted with interred steel and bodies pumped full of formaldehyde.
National Resources Defense Council
So my personal choice is to donate all my organs to science, for research and education, and then to put the remainder straight back into the earth or have it cremated. I want my body to be used to give something back to the world that keeps on keepin' on.

It makes me happy to know that I can specify these wishes in the otherwise creepy Last Will & Testament. One less thing for my loved ones to stress about when the bell tolls. 

But they will have to organize the party I've requested instead of a somber funeral...
We'll save that discussion for another post.

What do you want done with your remains when the time comes? What do YOU say?
Write or link to a response below. We'd love to hear your take on the topic.

XOXO From My Hearth to Yours

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Brighter Shade of White

There's just something about the first true snowfall of the season…

Opening the curtains and taking in the reflective shock of white, always so enchanting. The world seems somehow renewed, illuminated, purer and more gracefully hushed than it was the day before.

The excitement of change builds in every living creature- the birds forage, children's eyes widen with wonder, the dogs frolic and pounce. Magic happens.

I'm an autumn girl at heart, inspired by the bold radiance of the changing leaves. White has never been my color, so cold, so sterile and blank. But when it snows...only when it snows, my eyes take in a brighter shade, and I see things a little differently.
The cover of snow reflects the color and spirit of everything alive. My daughters' cheeks seem rosier against the white world, the cardinal out my window blazes in my field of vision, the ebony wetness of my beast-dog's nose melts the snowflakes that coat it. As the fairy dust falls, I'm okay with white.

Suddenly, the shock of white guides my eyes to absorb the best colors they can find. And such color in the world.

I often long for vacations on the beach, against a backdrop of cobalt waters, verdant mountains and shards of ruddy warmth that swirl through the sky. But not today. Not when it's snowing and the world is pure and white.

Let it snow today. Let the white erase the autumn of yesterday and prepare a clean slate for the winter ahead. 

It's warm inside and magic is happening everywhere.
Bring it on.

How are you affected by the first true snowfall of the season? Ain't it purdy?
XOXO From My Hearth to Yours

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Trading Lives? What Do YOU Say?

Are there people you envy enough to want to trade lives with them? Who are they?

Man. This one is a no-brainer for me.
My answer is a confident, head-shakin' HELL NO!

Now don't get me wrong- I'm not suggesting that my life is perfect, by any means. And yeah, I get jealous from time to time, for sure.

Of course I wish that we didn't have to work, that we could whisk off on fabulous luxury vacations whenever we wanted, that we'd never have to stress about money or health or...ANYthing, for that matter.

But let's get real, people.

That just ain't the way the plot rolls out, right?

I'm not oblivious to reality. Anyone with even the slightest hold on reason understands that life is full of ups and downs. We can't all be whistling and clicking our heels every day, and nauseating if we were.

We need down days to find the true worth in the upswing.

It's easy to feel jealous when we catch a glimpse of celebrity "Cribs" with indoor movie theaters, pools with waterfalls, personal chefs and...oh, housekeepers. OH, the housekeepers! :::pang::: It's common to compare ourselves to others and to feel inferior from time to time.

But that's what gives us the drive to build ourselves up. That's what motivates us to push a little harder, to plan for a brighter future, to make wiser, bolder moves... to stretch.

When I'm feeling down, jealous or just plain salty, I use this question to bring myself up out of the grey. No matter how icky the day tastes, I remind myself that there is no one, not one single person- past, present or future, that I would EVER trade lives with.

Never. Never never ever. I'm completely unwavering.

Trade my incredible family? My amazing friends? Forget how great I really have it?

It's okay to feel jealous sometimes. There will always be people who have more than we do. I'm reminded of "Richard Cory," a very profound poem we studied in high school, one which I reference often. It might seem like someone has it all from afar, but inside...sometimes things are altogether different. You can never really know what it's like in someone else's shoes. Every story is unique.

So, on this eve of Thanksgiving, let's be grateful for today, for what we have been given, for all the blessings and burdens that have contributed to our own stories and that have molded us into unique individuals.

Because, to me, it's way cooler to be yourself- with all your imperfections, than to try to mimic the appearance of someone else's life without reading the fine print. And there's always fine print.

No trades for me. I'm riding this wave.
XOXO From My Hearth to Yours
How about YOU? What do YOU say?
Are there people you envy enough to want to trade lives with them? Who are they?
Write or link to a response below. We'd love to hear your take on the topic.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Real People Feature: Talon Seitzinger

View from the top of Berthoud Pass, Colorado
Who are you?

My name is Talon Seitzinger. I am 20 years old, and I was born in Reading, Pennsylvania. I am currently a junior attending Penn State University, main campus. I am on track to graduate in May of 2014 with a degree in Information Sciences and Technology and a minor in Security Risk Analysis.

What is the best advice you've ever given or received and why?
What has been the greatest challenge in your life and why?

The next two questions go together in my case, because during the greatest challenge of my life, I received the best advice to help me through it. 

The biggest challenge in my life so far has been dealing with the death of my sister, Taylor. 

When I was a junior in high school my older sister was killed in a car accident caused by a drunk driver. Without getting into great detail, I had to endure one of the hardest things someone my age could have to deal with. To put it into a brutal perspective, I went from a “perfect American family,” with my mom, dad, and my sister, who was one year older than I was, to having nothing. 
At age 11, my parents’ marriage fell apart and my sister and I moved in with my aunt, so it was basically just us together being brother and sister, best friends, and just looking out for each other. 

We eventually moved into a house with my mom, and things started looking better- until the accident happened. 

Taylor was hospitalized for 1 week before she passed away, and that is when it set in that I lost my sister, my best friend, and I felt like I was all alone. The horrible, most challenging part about this whole story was burying my own sister in her prom dress, for the senior prom that she never had the chance to attend. 
Besides all the negativity in this story, the end result brought my family closer. It brought me closer to each of my parents, all of my aunts, uncles and cousins. As time passes, my family still remains closer than we ever were before the incident, and life just keeps going. 

I began receiving advice and sympathy from literally everyone, including people I didn’t even know. All of this was great, but then people wanted to talk way too much, and they all tried to “keep my mind off things” which isn’t really the best thing for a situation like that. I keep to myself a lot and I just bottle up emotions, I know-not the best thing, but it's true. Everyone acted like they were walking on egg shells around me. Upon returning to high school to finish out the year, my friends and even teachers, wouldn’t look me in the eye or ask me how I was doing. They would just try to politely ignore the fact that I just went through something drastically life changing. 
The best advice through the whole situation came to me from someone I don’t even know. I was on a trip with my dad that summer, in Florida, visiting my aunt. We went to a picnic, and Taylor came up. Everyone was asking the typical, “How are you doing?” and saying “If you need anything let me know,” just the things that I was sick of hearing. One of my aunt's friends pulled me aside and began telling me the story about how he had lost his daughter 3 years back. This is when he said, “You will never get over it. You just get used to it.” 

Still today this is the best piece of advice I was ever given. It summed up how the rest of my life will continue, and regardless if I like it or not, I will get used to the life I am given. If I can change the outcome of a situation and want it to change, then I have to go out and do it- but if something happens that I cannot change, I just have to accept it and continue with my life. 
Skimboarding in Myrtle Beach, SC
I pass this advice on whenever dealing with a situation like this and I hope it helps others as much as it has helped me. I could go on and on, but I tried to keep this as short and meaningful as possible.

What has been the greatest joy in your life and why?

The greatest joy in my life has been my skiboarding career. If you don’t know what skiboarding is, you can check out videos, pictures and other information on my sponsor’s website
You can check out Revel8’s website to view products, videos, and even my bio under the “Team” section.
I started riding about 5 seasons ago, and since then I have been progressing A LOT. Three seasons ago, I was picked up by my sponsor Revel8 skiboards (RVL*8 for short) and I was placed on their “flow team.” The following season I progressed enough to be put on their amateur team. This is when I started receiving free skis, bindings, and trips with my team. As this current season was approaching, I received news that I was being promoted to the Pro Team, and would be representing RVL*8 skiboards as a professional rider. 

Riding for my sponsor has taken me all over the country from Maine, all the way to California, and to almost every state with good mountains in between there. I have met great people and now have an endless amount of stories, pictures, and videos of what I have experienced. I am very thankful for everyone I have met, everything I have had the chance to experience and everything I will continue to experience in my career. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Here are some personal videos from my travels over the years.
What is one thing you have not done that you really want to do and why?

The one thing I want to do, and I WILL do before I die, is more traveling. 

I am hoping that with the career I start after college, I will be able to travel to places all over the world like, Germany, Italy, Spain, Australia, etc.. 

Favorite mode of transportation- my 07' CBR1000RR
I want to travel because you only have one chance to explore the world, and this is it. What good is life if you just stay in Pennsylvania your whole life? I want to get out and explore everything and anything that I haven’t yet. I want to enrich myself with different cultures and experiences that I can carry with me until the day I die. 
So there you have it. This is real people, friends.

It's easy for some to foolishly disregard the value of those with less years of experience, but Talon proves that the true wisdom of spirit is ageless. He has so much to teach. So very much.

I think I've learned about a hundred things since I first read Talon's piece. What he says resonates with me, sticks. Pieces of it carry into everything. Again, real people. Real life.

To me, this story is about celebrating the true spirit of life, living in the moment, and looking forward.

Thank you, Talon- for teaching me and my readers that growing is a process, that it's healthy to feel, and that life is for living- really living, with the wind blowing our hair back, living.

Have you travelled anywhere amazing and felt incredibly inspired and alive? Drop us a line. Talon needs to start setting up an itinerary! We all do, don't we?

I think Talon would really dig Austria- with its breathtaking mountains and verdant hills. Get there, dude...and send me a postcard. 

(And for the record, Talon, one of my favorite former students, is getting an imaginary A+ for this feature. Ha!)

P.S. If you'd like to participate in a Real People Feature, send me a message at or comment below. We'd love to hear from you.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Garbage Pail Kids? Freakin' A, Right!

Geez. At this rate, I might need to make a segment out of the mystery items my mother keeps delivering from my old bedroom. Every time she hands me a bag, I'm just lost in the memories. 

If you're a little behind on these freaky-deeky flashbacks, catch up by reading The Scent of High School and Dear Diary...You're Embarrassing. It has certainly been a trip seeing "younger Cally" through "older Cally" eyes. 

I think I'm blushing a little.

Anyway, THIS time when my Mom came to visit she brought...
Rock E. Horror and Snooty Sam? Y.E.S!
my entire collection of GARBAGE PAIL KIDS!!! And it's quite a collection, if I do say so myself. But once you get your hands on these crazy cards...well, if you've ever had access to a stack, you know. You know you know.
As soon as my mom handed me the bag of cards, I was completely out of commission for well over an hour.

Sometimes, when my husband is playing guitar, I'll try to talk to him and am met with a blank stare. He's looking at me but clearly not registering anything outside of his music. It took the delivery of the Garbage Pail Kids for me to understand...
I think people were trying to communicate with me during the hour (cough. or two) that I sorted through these cards. I'm sure someone needed something, that things were happening around me, that time was, in fact, passing. But, none of that really mattered, because..well Melton Elton and Sewer Sue were back!
I zoomed back to being 11-years-old and recalled hitting up the local convenience store back in Jers. My mom would be in the beauty shop next door while I'd be trading my $5 bill for a Snickers, the latest Seventeen magazine and as many Garbage Pail Kids packs as I could get with my leftover money.
On my way out of the store, I'd crack open a pack of cards and start gnawing on the pink stick of gum inside- the very same gum that, with its unimaginable hardness, must have contributed to my horrendous TMJ disorder. My jaw is tensing right now with the memory...
And by the time, I'd made it to the beauty shop right next door, the gum would have lost its flavor already. But the cards...oh the cards clearly last forever.
Yup. I actually did this- sorted ALL my cards and matched all the doubles. Dorksville.
I never collected baseball cards, of course. But my cousin, friends and I would trade Garbage Pail Kids constantly. Each trade, done under cover (inside a backpack on the playground) was like some dirty secret adults could never understand.

"I'll trade you my Cheeky Charles double for your Karate Kate. Hurry up with that or no deal. If you throw in the gum, maybe I'll toss in Blake Flake as a bonus. Quick. The recess bell is about to ring!"
The backs of the cards were just as hilarious. 
The concept and timing of Garbage Pail Kids was just perfect, wasn't it? I mean, we were the Cabbage Patch Kids generation, and as soon as we'd handed those ugly Cabbage Patch babies down to our younger siblings, we were met with the much more enticing Garbage Pail Kid humor. 

It was juuuuust right. From cute baby doll love to snot, blood and raw dog humor. What a transition.
Remember how each card had two different names, so you'd have to try to get one of each to complete your collection?
I loved everything about my Garbage Pail Kids, so empowering to my kid self. Yes, we were young - and we might not be able to drive or cash a check yet, but MAN could we laugh. Oh, we got the jokes, understood the innuendos of Peepin' Tom and Bunny Rabbit and felt unity in our sideways snickering.
These were my favorite cards, those I remembered most. It took me a long time to land Janet Planet.
The Garbage Pail Kids were ours, and I am never ever ever getting rid of my collection. However, if you're holding on to a collection of your own, I might still be open to some wheeling and dealing. "I'll give you one of my extra Greased Gregs for a bottle of Pinot Noir..."
Spousal hair pulling is SO not PC these days, but at least they had one for each gender to balance it out.
Now I've sorted and stashed my cards to keep them away from my girls' greasy mitts, but the coolest new ma & pop I know just scrounged up some of Daddy-o's old Garbage Pail Kids and created a completely radical addition for their lil' sweetheart's nursery. Check it out here. I hope that "Leaky Lindsay" is somewhere in that frame, with snot and drool encompassing her entirety. Because, you know...

Spit in your hand and high-five to Garbage Pail Kids. Here's to Generation X. We sure beat out Leave it to Beaver, didn't we? 

Did you have Garbage Pail Kids when you were a kid? Which cards do you remember most?

And P.S. WHOO HOO- There's a new series of 2012 Garbage Pail Kids out now! Can you believe that?!? Check them out here and get lost in the reverie of prepubescence and toilet humor...

Friday, November 16, 2012

Ghosts? What Do YOU Say?

Do you believe in ghosts or evil spirits?
Would you be willing to spend a night alone in a remote house that is supposedly haunted?

Well, it seems like everyone has a ghost story to tell, doesn't it? If I'm going to stay rational (who am I kidding? This is CALLY talkin', here. Rational? Pffft!) I'd say that I'd need to see or experience ghosts/spirits to believe in them. But...
Photo Credit
Ultimately, I do believe in ghosts. You know how sometimes you just get a feeling about a place? To me, there's an energy about everything, and because so many people I respect have stories that suggest they've experienced unexplainable energies, I've gotta go with it and admit that I believe ghosts could be real- especially if they have unfinished business here. 

Again with the stories...

We had an amazing friend, Elizabeth (we called her Beth Ann), who passed away ten years ago. Two of my girls and I hold an annual reunion to remember the life that was lost. I'm telling you, people- almost every year, something crazy weird happens. Last year, the strong scent of her perfume wafted past us while we were eating dinner when no one walked by. As we experienced this sensory overload, our friend said, "Whoa. What IS that?" and then, immediately, someone in the restaurant shouted out, "Elizabeth!" So weird. Gooooooooooosebumps!

Now, I definitely do not think our friend is a ghost. But I like to believe that her spirit visits us from time to time. Maybe that belief just brings me comfort when I miss my girl, but I'm gonna let myself have that one.

The plain truth of it is- I just love a good ghost story. Like love. Got one? Tell it!

Being IN a ghost story, however, is something altogether different. eh. 
Photo Credit
Spending the night alone in a remote, supposedly haunted house sounds pretty traumatizing to me. Yeah. That wouldn't go over well. I mean, I would do anything if the incentive was great enough, but I wouldn't be raising my hand to volunteer for this one.

If I absolutely had to get through a night in this house, I'd have a plan for sure. Planting myself directly next to a first floor exit, I'd survey my surroundings carefully to ensure that nothing could injure me if it, you know, moved (GAH!) and I'd try to practice calming exercises to keep myself from tweaking out. If anything freakish occurred, I'd outwardly speak up to say that I'm not there to cause any harm and that I'd be gone soon. And then I'd have a heart attack and die. Probably. 

But come on now. The reality is that, if I had to stay in that house, I'd likely be in fetal position, rocking myself and mumbling like a total loony toon. It wouldn't be pretty. Like, the sight of me acting like that would probably spook the ghosts. Whoooooo! Who's this freakshow in our house? She's scaaaaary. Good thing we're dead and way past this human foooooolishness.

Has Wes Craven covered that one yet? I'll start a script...

So how about YOU? 
What do YOU say?

Do you believe in ghosts or evil spirits?
Would you be willing to spend a night alone in a remote house that is supposedly haunted?

Write or link to a response below. We'd love to hear your take on the topic...especially if you have a good ghost story for us!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Let's Play a Game: The Book of Questions

Apart from my devotion to The Book That Started It All, there rests (in the depths of the bins collected from my former classroom) another gem. The Book of Questions is a compilation of philosophical queries that has significantly influenced my deeper thinking as I've grown and matured.

"If you could change one thing about your life right now, what would it be?" get ungrounded and get my phone back!

At 14, my friends and I used to chill in my room (HA! Check out The Scent of High School to reminisce with me), tossing these intense questions back and forth. The girls would "go there" and overanalyze every detail (you don't say) and the boys would spit out riotously absurd scenarios you'd just have to shake your head at.

Hey. Reactions vary, right?

"Do you believe in love at first sight?"

In my high school classroom, I used these questions constantly.  My students and I would write and discuss responses to prompts from this book. The plain truth is that the discussions we had from these responses were my absolute FAVORITE part of teaching. There's no question there. Oh, how I learned from all the ideas. How I pondered. How I changed and opened up by hearing what these kids had to learning what I had to say.

Anyway. In a nutshell, this book is kind of a life-changer. It just makes you think. Deep. Like, space out-hard style. It won't go away for a week, or maybe forever-style.

So, I wanna go there again. Wanna play?
Starting next week, I'm going to toss one out, a total head spin question that will make our brains hurt.

But we've gotta go there to grow, to know ourselves, to understand others.
I've never been to a psychiatrist, but I believe in what they do. I feel like it's good to dig sometimes, to find out what's in there so that we can put out the best energy while we're here.

I'm doin' it, baby.
You get ready, too, huh?

I'll post the question and toss some of my guts out with it. Feeling open? Spew some of you out too and feel free to link your response to the comments below. It'll be cool to read where other brains take the topic. We learn from each other, right?

Here's my pick for the first question. Think about it and then go at it! I'll post mine soon. You can link here or on my post once it's up. I'm psyched to hear what people say.

Do you believe in ghosts or evil spirits?
Would you be willing to spend a night alone in a remote house that is supposedly haunted?

Whooooooo! What do you say?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

To All the Loony-Goonies

Yesterday, we had a dance party throughout the house. Like, an out-of-breath, hysterically laughing, gonzo wackadoo dance party. 

Blasting a totally rad Mo-town mix, we just got doooown. The girls were laughing so hard they both got hiccups. I was sure someone would barf, but there was just no stoppin' the groove, man.Ya dig?

This craze-a-mundo dance sesh was just what I needed this week- freeing, exhilarating, completely strange and silly to the max. 

Sometimes, a crazy, crooked dance party interjection is just what you need to get straight.

It so reminds me of one of my favorite childhood poems, by the silliest author in the whole wide world.  
Read it...and then go be wonderfully weird. Because, yes.


Draw a crazy picture, 
Write a nutty poem,
Sing a mumble-gumble song,
Whistle through your comb.
Do a loony-goony dance
'Cross the kitchen floor.
Put something silly in the world
That ain't been there before.

-Shel Silverstein

Here's to sweet silliness, my friends!
Go get loony-goony!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Real People Feature: Jaime

Wes and me, on his 2nd birthday, with his baby sister in my belly
    Who are you?

    Jaime Leah~ I am mommy to Westley and the baby girl growing in my belly; a wife and partner to my best friend, Bob; a daughter; a sister; a friend; a teacher; a food lover.

    I’ve been told I’m a bit of an old soul. I am an intense, sensitive yet strong woman who loves deeply.

    What is the best advice you've ever given or received and why?

    Growing up, I was raised by a single mother (my "father" left when I was two years old and my mom was nine months pregnant with my sister. He never returned). The three of us grew up living with my grandparents. 
    A picture Bob drew of us, on the first day we met in 1999
    On the fridge of our home was a newspaper cut-out with the words, "It’s nice to be important, but it is much more important to be nice". This resonated with me. My Bubie (grandmom in Yiddish) and mom always instilled the importance of being kind and compassionate and a good human being. I have made every effort to live a life being a good person with an open, non-judgmental heart.

    I very much enjoy listening to others and helping them feel listened to and understood. I remember a time a few years ago- I had a student, age 7, who was struggling tremendously with his parents' divorce. He knew all of the sad, heartbreaking intricacies of why the two most important people to him were splitting at the seams. I watched for months as his fun-loving demeanor changed and he put up a wall. 

    Our sweet Westley, in the garden
    One day, he came and stood in front of me. He just stood there, staring into my eyes. I looked at him and said, "It’s okay to feel sad and hurt and scared. It’s okay to cry." And that is just what he did. For a long time, in my arms…he cried.

  1. What has been the greatest challenge in your life and why?

  2. This is a tough one.

    I think my greatest challenge in life has been overcoming personal heartache and struggle. Since childhood, being a "victim" of circumstance, tragedy and poor choices was something I refused to do. Struggle and sorrow can either break you or it can refine and redefine you. That is what I chose. 

    Life for me has never been "easy", yet I never use that as a crutch. If anything, the trials of my 31 years have motivated me to be the best person I can. It has given me the gift of empathy, kind-heartedness and compassion, qualities I may never have possessed if I had not been involved in life’s trials. 

    Charles Dickens wrote, "Suffering has been stronger than all other teaching, and has taught me to understand what your heart used to be. I have been bent and broken, but - I hope - into a better shape."

  3. What has been the greatest joy in your life and why?

  4. Someone very dear to me once explained that a heart is capable of endless, limitless love and joy. I truly feel this encompasses my own heart and the joys of my life. They include:

    My son, Westley Finn; I always say, Westley was the reason I was born. The immeasurable amount of unconditional love I have for him has changed me as a person. He gives life purpose and meaning and he inspires me to be better every single day. He is the greatest gift.
    Wes, kissing my belly
    *I already feel the same joy for and about his sister in my belly, whom we cannot wait to meet.

    My Husband: Bob and I are what my Bubie would refer to as "kismet". It translates to "written in the stars". When I think about what we share, I genuinely have no words to describe how deep it goes. He has allowed me to see and experience what a good man is.
    Bobby and me
    The Women in my Life: my grandmother, my mother and sister. Each radiates wisdom, bravery, warmth and strength. Everything I am is because of the women who raised me.
    My sister, mother, Wes and me- by B.side Photography
    My Beeb (grandfather): He was the first man in my life. He holds a very special place in my heart. Most of the time, I am unable to talk about him without tears streaming down my cheeks. When I close my eyes, I am perpetually five years old and I am running into his open arms.
    My sister, Beeb and me, a few years ago during Christmastime
    My Childhood (with my sister): Amanda and I have saved one another from the beginning. We are more than sisters and best friends- we are each other’s soul mates. What a gift to exist within our laughter and twirl on the support of our childhood. There are many things we were not given and many things that were taken from us. But, we have each other and we are the lucky ones.

    What is one thing you have not done that you really want to do and why?

    Live without worry, specifically about things not in my control.

    When I was around eight years old, I wrote a ten page letter to God asking him to rid the world of tragedy, war, famine and death. I put all my worries "on the table" so to speak, and asked that God take them away.

    Not much has changed at age 31. I worry, incessantly, about things out of my control with the hope I can make them change. I have (slowly) learned it just robs me of the present.

    Play the piano. Yes, play the piano.

    I think I also need to slow down. One of my favorite authors, Miranda July, once wrote,
    Wes and Daddy, strolling around one autumn afternoon
    "That is my problem with life; I rush through it, like I'm being chased. Even things whose whole point is slowness, like drinking relaxing tea. When I drink relaxing tea I suck it down as if I'm in a contest for who can drink relaxing tea the quickest." …this about sums me up. 

    Man. Now here's a girl with heart, huh? There aren't many people walkin' around with this much genuine goodness in their souls. Some people though...

    So, about that student story? Waterworks over here. Completely moving.

    And (BOO!) I, too, am an absurd and sometimes completely irrational worrywart. I'm all ears for ANY advice on cutting that nonsense outta my life. Anyone? Puh-lease!

    Jaime is the kind of girl who was just born to be a best friend, a mama, a teacher. She's doing this world right, making a difference by sharing her light.

    Bless your sweetest heart, most beautiful Jaime. How refreshing to know that love like yours is for real. And best wishes in sharing your whole lotta love with yet another lucky wee one! Ladies like you make the best mamas! xoxox

    P.S. If you'd like to participate in a Real People Feature, send me a message at or comment below. We'd love to hear from you.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Reading in the Dark?

Our Lil' Miss got a BOSS birthday present that I had to share with all you moms n' pops out there.

As always, let me remind you that I do not get paid to write about any product I review. Whenever merchandise makes us smile, I'm happy to toot the ole' happy horn (whaaa?!?) for the simple sake of sharing the joy.

Anyhoo, we busted out this new book, Nighttime Nursery Rhymes, and a flashlight to give it a go. After our last 30 hour stint without power (In the Dark with Frankenstorm), I wished we'd had this book for the big black out.
But I was thinking that this might be a great gift for a wee one who gets the heebie jeebies in the dark. It's healthy for children to create a positive association with being in the dark, and this book makes "lights out" super fun!

The concept is simple- read your nursery rhymes with a flashlight and then hold up each page, shine the light through the window and project an image that corresponds to each story anywhere in your room...on the ceiling, the wall, the floor.
Our kiddo couldn't get enough, and using this book opens up so much opportunity for discussion about light and shadows.
The morning after we experimented and discussed this book, our girl asked me, "Hey Mom? Why can't I see my smile in my own shadow?" Good question, kiddo! Let's talk about that...
We particularly enjoyed controlling the size of each projected image. It was cool to watch our daughter learn that moving the flashlight closer to the page would create a larger, more blurry projection and that pulling the light back would sharpen and shrink the image on the wall.
And, know YOU'RE going to want to try it, too. So, tack "taking turns"onto the list of benefits from using this book at bedtime.
Everyone is really excited about this new find. Even if we've read a more advanced story at bedtime, it's still fun to kill the lights and throw a couple projections up on the wall on my way out for the night.
I'm happy to leave her with her flashlight to experiment on her own as she simmers down for bed.

I truly believe that using this simple book will really spark creativity and initiate constructive question and answer sessions around here. I'm already seeing the lightbulb go on...oh wait, or off. You know what I mean.
Two thumbs up for this great little find! I would definitely recommend it for the tots- maybe even the wee-est babies as well.

So if you take it THERE, and really- you know it's going to go there, check out this site for rad hand shadow ideas.

Here's to bedtime! May the stars align and bring all the pipsqueaks, mommies and daddies a good night's sleep. Lights out!

XOXO From My Hearth to Yours