Friday, January 31, 2014

The Fault In Our Stars / Appraising Pages / and my new TFIOS design

I have recently had the awesome pleasure of getting to know the fabulous duo behind the books and Appraising Pages, Justine & Amanda. They are freaking fantastic.


And for all you readers out there - let me tell you.... you will want to follow their blog/twitter/facebook/etsy pages STAT!

They might even turn this girl into a reader.... WHO KNEW?!?!?

They are over here giving you all these fantastic book recommendations and reviews and harmonizing revolutions of book fans into character teams (which I'm trying to figure out) and book-ivores (which i totally made up) and pretty awesome book inspired fashion icons (um definitely see below). For book lovers, it's the place to be.

I simply can't thank them enough for collaborating with me on making a design inspired by The Fault in Our Stars - because I know there are legions of you going nuts over this book/movie. This.... I am learning.

And now I can add another book lover design to my shop!
So thank you Justine and Amanda! You gals ROCK!

Check them out - everywhere...
They will dazzle you with their knowledge of all things read, wow you with their fabulous book inspired t-shirts (and more), and keep you wanting more direction on what to read next!

http://www.appraisingpages.com
https://www.etsy.com/shop/AppraisingPagesShop
https://www.facebook.com/AppraisingPages
#appraisingpages

here is some of their stuff!




And below you find my new TFIOS inspired design! Let me know what you think of it!
It includes lots of major inspirations from the book. The pendants hang from an antique gold infinity charm. It has the most teeny tiny little nugget of a star I could find, and then gawk over. Also a cloud charm (as in the front of the book) and the best line I've heard in weeks.... "my thoughts are stars I cannot fathom into constellations". BOOM! Really? Who says that?! (people you want to fall in love with I'm pretty sure). "Okay? Okay."
with cascading blue crystal drops.
I may end up adding another star charm. It's TBD.




Find it here

Find me on etsy
#myabrucedesigns on twitter
and facebook!

<3
Leah


Thursday, October 24, 2013

My rant. Molluscum. Traumatized. Essential oils. I pray no one else has this experience.

I hadn't wanted to get in to this personal trial on the blog before, but I keep running in to people that are searching for answers and remedies and advice on the same issue and I needed a platform to be able to post my testimony at this length. This very common skin virus wrecked us for months. My hope is that others won't have to go through this.

Here is my rant:
---------------------------



My son, Asher, is 3. We noticed some bumps on his arm and side of chest about 6+ months ago. They didn’t seem to bother him, and they were pretty small. I waited for a few months, but then one seemed to get infected so we took him to the Dr. He recommended that we go to a dermatologist, so we did. At this point they had multiplied, and spread, but were still small, and looked harmless.  She told us it was a skin virus, contagious, and that we needed to try this “beetle Juice” treatment on it. She dabbed very small spots of this medicine on 3 bumps as a trial run to see how he’d react They didn’t hurt. We still had no idea what we we're doing or what this was and we were just going along with whatever she said had to be done. She told us that they might blister, but it was no big deal and if it did, to pop them in his sleep (yeah right). 4-5 hours later when we started seeing these 3 puff up a bit, we washed it off as instructed, and thought these were the blisters we were supposed to pop. We tried, through his sad screams, but they wouldn’t pop. We ended up leaving them after that, and watched for the next few days as they were blistered and painful and then scabbed up. It was not a fun process. When we went back 2 weeks later, we asked if there was any other option because we didn’t want to do that again. She said the only other option was to cut them off. Um, no thanks! Trusting this advice, we thought our only choice was to move forward. This is where the nightmare started.
The Dr and her nurse then put the beetle juice on all of his bumps, about 40-50. But we would learn that the test run was nothing that compared to the appropriate nightmare that was coming. Not only did they put on more of it this time, but the nurse was not merely dabbing the bumps with the end of the stick, she was rolling the entire end of the stick over each bump. This covered a much larger area around each bump. He didn't feel a thing during the application, and he walked out fine. And for the second time, she had forgotten to give me the printed out info on what these bumps were or what to expect.
In only a couple hours I was faced with a screaming 3 year old that would not allow me to even come near touching him. I could barely lift his shirt to see what had happened, but I could tell blistering was starting. A lot worse. I was waiting for my husband to get home to help me get this treatment washed off because he wouldn’t let me near him. So for the next couple hours he paced the room, crying and screaming. I wasn’t able to hold him or pick him up, and he wasn’t able to even sit, since he had some on his bottom as well. He could only pace. I was feeling a helpless panic.
When we got him undressed and in the shower, I just cried. He was covered in 40-50 huge nickel sized blisters all over his arm, side of his chest, his knees, and his butt. They were huge. I couldn’t even imagine the pain. We tried benadryl and motrin as instructed if he was “uncomfortable”, and nothing touched his pain. He finally got so tired from hours of crying and fell asleep around 9. At 11pm I heard this screaming that I have never heard before. We both ran in and he was in so much pain that he had straightened his body in to this stiff, shaking, sobbing child. My husband had to scoop under him to get him out and we laid on the floor with him, and I just sobbed right along with him. It was medieval torture and we had done this to him, and there was nothing we could do to make it better. We knew we had to try to pop them. Mark that down as the most traumatizing experience ever. Attempting to pop each of them, for over an hour, and get them to drain, as he screamed bloody murder. I can’t even fathom the pain he felt. We were all awake most of the night. I watched as he tried to sleep on one knee, his face, and one hand, while holding his other arm up in the air.


For the entire next day we could hardly function, we were so depressed over this experience. This thing that was supposed to be no big deal. These bumps that were hardly noticeable before... had gorged into these monstrous, bloody, puss filled, scabby, painful mess, and 5 times the size. I could tell we had just made this so much worse, and created a whole lot of scarring, on top of the pain.
We had to wrap his chest and arm in gauze and bandages. Every morning and night we spent about 30 minutes getting all of them covered so that he couldn't touch them, and so that no one else could be infected, and to try to minimize the spread. We were obsessively careful to make sure our daughter and other kids never had access to touching the bumps so they wouldn’t also get it, since it’s only contagious to children, and only on contact with the bump. He was bandaged and always covered with long sleeves and we changed his towel every night and kept clorox wipes by the toilet and wiped it down after every time he used it. It was a process that required a lot of work, and we had to be relentless, but I knew if my daughter got them it would be even MORE traumatic, and if his friends got them, I would have felt devastated.

After being thrown into this nightmare, I was definitely googling what this whole issue was about. I googled it too late.
Molluscum Contagiosum. This is what we were dealing with. What I found made all of this very much worse. I read that most dermatologists won’t treat this condition because it’s too “barbaric”. I even found a forum where numerous doctors had written all their opinions. Most of them sharing that their only treatment options were not that effective, all of them painful, and that moms should be instructed to wait it out. The bumps would leave in 6-24 months on their own.
My heart sank. We put him through the most painful, horrific procedure, and didn’t even need to. And worse - it didn't remove even one bump. It was for nothing. How I wish I had the information on this before. I wish I had googled it sooner. I wish she would have told me that we didn’t need to necessarily do anything and that this might not even work!
So for the next 3 weeks as I watched his body look like a lepper, I spent hours every day researching options. I tried the apple cider vinegar, I tried clove oil, I tried creams, etc. Everything burned, and I couldn’t put him through it. This consumed our life for weeks.
I waited for that follow up appointment with the Dr 3 weeks later, as my rage went from bad to worse. A few days before this appointment his arms and legs developed this huge, crazy rash that seemed to get worse by the hour. It was the worst rash I’d ever seen, and terribly inflamed. He looked like he was burned. So now he was covered in painful bumps that were 5 times worse, an itchy rash on the entire rest of his body, and his eczema was so much worse everywhere from all these treatments and issues.  
When I went with him back to the Dr they said with a smile, “Is he better?”  Thank God I didn’t punch someone. NO! HE was so much worse! Not only was that the worst treatment I’ve ever heard of, but it didn’t even work! Now he’s scarred and scabbed up, and these bumps are still there!
But after I told her I wouldn’t do further treatments she pretty much acted like she was done with me. She told me to just wait it out then for several months. WHY didn’t she tell me this in the first place?!?! {And WHY would i want to wait this out and watch it spread and have to treat him like a plagued person!}
And then she made it worse... his rash was a reaction to this horrific treatment, and now he had “gionotti crosti syndrome". You can see the horrific photos here http://www.dermnetnz.org/viral/gianotti-crosti.html
She only told me that it wasn’t contagious, and it would last a few weeks and leave it alone but treat the itch.
She walked out without telling me we were even done, and didn’t ask to see him again to even know if he got better. I was furious.
I came home and googled this new issue and found that it would likely get worse, turn purple, spread to his face, and probably blister. I was livid. To put this kid through more blisters... livid.
At the end of my rope I turned to someone certified in homeopathic treatments. Lynn was a true answer to prayer. She recommended a mix of essential oils: lemon and Melaleuca Alternifolia (AKA tea tree oil) for getting rid of the molluscum and lavender to calm it all down. I ordered these 3 and blended them together with olive oil. I also ordered the “gentle baby” blend for his eczema that was made so much worse.
I applied the 3 oil blend to his bumps in the morning, and straight tea tree oil at night. We covered all of the bumps with bandage tape.
Just for kicks, I applied the baby blend to his entire rash to see if it would help, maybe if even just for the itch.
This is where I regret not taking “before” photos.  Within 2-3 days we could already tell a difference in both the bumps & the rash. Within 5 days his rash was virtually GONE! This rash that was supposed to get so much worse.  In a full week the bumps on his arm were GONE! His chest was 80% better in what felt like over night, compared to the 6-24 months we thought we were looking at.
A week and a half later I was only needing to cover a few bumps, no rash and no eczema. By 2 weeks all bumps were entirely gone. We were both literally shocked at how quickly it worked, with no discomfort and he smelled good all the time!
We went through the most traumatizing months of our parenting lives, and put our 3 year old through a whole lot of unneeded pain, and yet these oils fixed him up in ONE week. It felt miraculous. He was covered in scars all over his body and still looked like a lepper for quite a while, but I continued to treat those areas with oils and a year later - no scars! 
We learned A LOT! Research first, never do beetle juice if you can avoid it, and always try the oils first!


As a bonus miracle, I started using thieves oil on our entire family after our son came down with a cold after this whole mess. The next day he was 80% better AND no one else got it. When I saw 2 sick neighbors a few days later I gave them a drop and told them to rub it on their neck. They BOTH told me they were better the next day! I was shocked! I didn’t even expect it. One of them was really sick the night before and I didn’t think he’d “fall for it” so to speak. He thanked me the next day and said he was definitely better. I was actually pretty surprised!



We have been baffled and astounded at how these essential oils have affected our life over the last (year since I wrote this). I never expected for this to work, and now I am a true believer. It sounds so cheesy, but I honestly tried everything with no results and this worked immediately. We are forever thankful that this nightmare is over. I worried for quite some time about the traumatizing effect this would leave on him as well. Even a year later he still remembers it and talks about all the bandaids, but I know had we not tried the oils we'd still be dealing with those bumps TODAY!

------------
I wrote all of this back in Feb 2013 with no affiliation or representing an oil company. But I can now say as of October of 2013 they changed our lives. How could I not want to use them for everything and help spread the word! Needless to say, if you are interested, let me know! I talk oils over here - https://www.facebook.com/LeahNLemonDropper. I am a very skeptical person, and my husband is even MORE SO! For the 2 of us to stand behind these oils speaks volumes. My husband comes home quite often to tell me his friends need certain oils. He also refuses to go to bed without certain oils for sleep and wellness (as do I!). We have seen so much improvement with headaches, any pain, allergies, stress, illnesses, insomnia, moods, energy, balance, and even my skincare has entirely been replaced with these oils now and I am always surprised at how much quicker I am able to see and feel results, than by using standard drugs and treatments. I was a constant pill-popper-person my entire life (literally since middle school). I am hooked now on finding these natural remedies for my family and not sending my kids down the same pill popping journey. Please feel free to email me tif you have questions or areas in your life you'd like to try finding improvements for. leah (at) myabrucedesigns.com. If you already know you want to dive in to trying these amazing oils, I can honestly say that the premium starter kit is the best way to start and you get the most value for your $. I'd prefer to help you through this process, but if you'd rather get started on your own, you can click here to get the starter kit, just be sure to keep "member" marked in order to get the starter kit and at the reduced price. You can also check NO for step 3 as that is a monthly agreement.


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

2 things you should know about

Holy Moly it's been a while!

Quick post to share 2 important facts today!

1. I'm part of a large & awesome giveaway happening over at kangacoo designs. I'm giving away a NEW design too!

http://www.kangacoo.com/1/post/2013/06/not-your-average-giveaway-giveaway.html


2. I just had the best vegan sandwich at IN N OUT! In n out is one of the biggest things I've missed since I transitioned into mostly vegan, but today I ordered a meatless/cheeseless burger but added pickles, animal style onions, and then I stuffed fries in the middle too. It was holy amazing. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Remembering... and honoring....and living this one life full


Today I will remember how I felt on Sept TWELVE. I will remember how I looked at life. How I felt every inch of it. How I realized its shortness... its gravity. How I noticed every blessing. How I cried for the broken, and how I wanted to grasp the most joy out of this one life - as a way to honor those that weren't given more days to do so. I will remember how we felt as one people and the severe thankfulness we had for each other. It was a glimpse of our greatest moments in the depths of our biggest sorrow. And then I will strive to keep living in such a way.


"How do you ease the throb of a soul?
Growth has this way of hurting.
And bereavement has this way of birthing.
And what is becoming without a going?...

Is this what brokenness really is? A state of wonder? When we are broken, we take nothing for granted and we are astonished by breath and being and the most simple extraordinary grace. When we are broken, being at all is the wonder, everyday grace is the miracle, and we see that this is what is real: everything is a staggering gift."
-Ann Voskamp



Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Casey will change my life. "it's just a hand"...

It doesn't happen often... but every now and then. These moments where you get instant chills, and your insides wrench. These God-moments I call them.... Where I feel that sudden pinching reminder that my life is not my own. That I am in need of a subtle reality check. A grace given bucket of thankfulness. These moments come when I am greatly inspired by someone. I have been inspired by many, but every now and then I know it is specifically placed.
I had my days of frustration where I'd rather not make this jewelry-creating a job. Where it is too much admin work and not enough joyful creating. But every now and then someone share's their story with me and I am reminded that to some people, it means a lot. Last year I shared Ashley's story. Ashley and her sister Mandy will forever imprint me, and I have tucked their story in to my life lessons and noted it as one of my careful truths to live by.
Recently, I was gifted with another amazing woman to "meet" via etsy. She only gave me a small bit of her reason for her order in her check out notes, but it was enough already to make me thankful for her.
She was purchasing a design that is special to me. It carries my life verse - "not by my strength but by my spirit".
And in her message, this:
"I'm laying in a hospital bed with a staph infection waiting to see if the infection has spread throughout my hand, and while shopping to distract myself, I found this. It feels supportive in a way. If the infection has spread too far, they're going to take my hand. I'm 31, I have three children. I sort of need this hand! But this necklace will help me remember that its just a hand, I can get through it with support and inner strength. So thank you, your creativity just gave me a life raft, and I didn't realize until now how badly I needed one." 

Instant tears! "its just a hand". That will be another one of those learning moments I will tuck in to my life lessons and pull it out when I need it. I just kept thinking - if that was me, I'd be a wreck on the floor, screaming and angry. And she was able to say "its just a hand". Amazing.
I wrote her back to thank for her sharing that with me, because I knew that come the day when I faced my battle, I would remember that Casey was able to remember that it was just a hand and that she still had her life, and her kids and her family. And that is enough.
I also asked her if she'd be interested in sharing her story on my blog because she had such an amazing attitude about it and I knew that if more people, like me, heard it - it would help them to realize how right she was, and that we can each find courage and bravery when we remember that there is so much more in life, and that how we handle suffering can influence others.

I had no idea that her hand was only a small part of the story, and this life lesson would be so much bigger than I thought.

--------------------------
Leah, 

My hand is doing well, They took a small chunk (ew, for lack of a better word!) and shaved some bone, but I am keeping my hand. But my hand is only part of the story, there's a reason I got the infection that had to be treated in hospital. 

On what made me sick? Ugh, where to begin. I have an immune deficiency, my body doesn't make T-Cells to fight germs like other people's bodies do. Sort of like HIV, only this condition is genetic and not transferable to others. My children do not have it, thankfully. I get injections of something called "Gamma Globulin" its something normal bodies make, it helps me make t-cells to fight every day infections. 

When I was pregnant with my daughter, Ainsley, early on It was discovered that I had cervical cancer, which would spread very quickly because of the increased hormones from the pregnancy, and the doctors told me to abort her. I refused. They were adamant even as the pregnancy progressed and even pushed me to have her dangerously early and I flatly refused. I had her via c-section at 38 weeks, when she was nice and healthy and at full gestation, During the c-section they removed most of my cervix and assured me that I was safe, I had clear margins and they saw no more signs of cancer. 

During the pregnancy the situation was made MORE difficult because my husband and I felt as though we had to keep it a secret as his Grandmother was dying of ovarian cancer and everyone was so emotionally devastated as she simply went downhill so quickly. She was hanging on for Ainsley. In the family there had been six great-grandchildren born, all boys. Everyone was done having children, I was having this last (I have two boys as well) child, and I and everyone else so desperately wanted a girl. Goodness, how Grandma wanted that girl. She was so happy when I told her it was to be a girl she said, "Well thank goodness. I think you've perfected the boy process, its time we started on girls." She wanted to wait for Ainsley to be born to find out what her name was, but when it became clear she wasn't going to make it, everyone flew to Pittsburgh, PA to be at her side. We couldn't fly, I had to stay home and it was so hard, but she still lingered. Our Aunt said she knew she'd been waiting to hear the baby's name, so they held the phone to her ear and I said "Her name is Ainsley Grandma, it means 'my own'. You can go now, shes waiting to meet you, and when you're done holding her, please send her back to me." She'd been unresponsive until that point for several days, but grunted and tried to nod. A few minutes later she died, one week before Ainsley was born. 
I tell my boys that "Grandma Ginny" held Ainsley for an entire week before she was born and then let us have her, thats why she came out so healthy even though I was so unwell. A few months ago I went in for my routine check, early actually, I wasn't due until Sept but something told me to go in, and my uterus and ovaries are riddled with aggressive and fast growing cancerous tumors. Its spreading faster than the treatment can contain. In a couple weeks I'm going to have to have the surgery because we can't wait any longer, its spreading too fast. The problem is that because of my immune issues, I simply don't heal and I might go in for the surgery and not come out. I wanted to wait for school to start so I could see my oldest son, Connor, start 3rd grade. Hes so smart and inquisitive and genuinely kind. I want to see Max go to Kindergarten, such a strong, happy loving boy. I want to see Ainsley turn 3. I feel such a greed with the time I have, I WANT more. There are so many silly little things I want, and not to settle for less. Both boys have summer birthdays, so I made them extra special this year; A superhero birthday for Max, each child got a cape and mask and all his friends went crazy on a giant inflatable waterslide in the back yard. Connor had Indiana Jones and all the boys got hats and had to use a treasure map and clues to lead them all over the house for their goodie bags and then to play Indiana Jones video games half the night glggling and telling inappropriate jokes like boys do. And then there is AInsley. I just can't let go yet without giving her this last memory. So I won't. I'm just going to fight with every breath, every fiber, every cell and push and pull and this stupid cancer with have to drag me every inch of the way if it wants me. And my body might be tired and weak but my spirit is burning and blazing fire against anything that would take me from my children. 

I recently bought a necklace that says "not by my strength, but by my spirit" which for me means when my physical strength gives out, which it does tend to do, my spirit carries me through difficulty. I grasp that necklace often, to remind me that my inner light is stronger than I know. And I find my way through.

Thank You, 
Casey
--------------------------

.....And I am a blubbering mess.
So much bigger - this story. Not just a hand. A life. A real, living, heart loving mama, bigger than words, sort of life.
I can't imagine thinking of all the things I want my kidlets to know just in case.
I do keep a gratitude journal that I daily write down our happy moments and tape photos of them into, so one day they can look back and see it all. But I just can't imagine not knowing if I'd be here for the next big memory. The Firsts of everything. The hoping I've told them enough. All of it.

This necklace design originally stemmed from my life verse. I have spent a life time feeling weak, but determined to conquer with my spirit. Casey, however, gives it a whole new meaning because she truly exemplifies it, and she has also given me the strength to know that if she can face her battles with such strength and grace... I can face mine. And I will forever think of her when I face the even bigger ones. I will try not to throw myself on the floor like I always imagined I would, because I will remember that SHE said - "it's just a hand".

Today, I am praying for Casey, as she has her first procedure today. And I will BELIEVE that she will come through healthy and strong and recover. Because what a woman this earth is blessed to have, and those kids are gifted to be raised by. And what a true blessing she has been in teaching me some heavy duty life lessons.
Like Ashley, I will never forget Casey either. Or my dear friend Rachel O. These mamas have taught me to be a better one, to be braver, to be stronger, to be more thankful and ever present.
The life lessons these warriors have given me -  I am planning to add to my own necklace, with their names - as my stones of reminders.

I hope you will always remember them too.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Long time no blog!

I know. It's tragic. This lack of blogging....please forgive me.
But I have something crafty to share! It's late. of course, and I do not claim to be a very crafty person, so I realize this may not be all that impressive, but it's one of my new favorite sentimental art pieces in the house. This piece I made for the hubs.

For Father's Day I was on the hunt for some old, weathered wood.
When the crazy guy on the side of the road with all the cool junk and fabulous wood was completely unhelpful with my desire to purchase said wood, I realized I was going to have to hunt for it.
Thankfully I have a dad that likes to hunt too! :) And he found this fabulous door left behind in a vacant lot.


Now on my own, this door would have been useless to me, but I also have the craftiest dad in the world.

So he turned this door, into this amazing wood plaque for me, and even roughed it up a bit more, and burned it a little. It's about 25"x18". It was better than I could have imagined.





So then I was on the hunt for some metal letters. This, I found, was not as easy as I thought! I thought good 'ol Home Depot would have them right next to the metal numbers you put on your house. nope!
15 stops later, I gave up. Hobby Lobby was out of "D" in nearly every metal object I could find. Figures, during daddy-week. So I got the wood ones and spray painted them.
I did find the "Love" in metal which I liked mixing up the materials, textures and colors.
I found this piece of metal mesh, and painted it also and then put some craft wood across it and then stick-on foam letters in aqua.
Then I glued all my black and white pictures and then added nails to all the edges because I liked the look.
In very small print I wrote on each of the photos a one word characteristic of him. 
I also had my daughter write him a note that I put on there, and she signed her (and her brother's name) at the bottom.
I thought I'd be able to carve into it some, but it didn't show up well, so I hand stamped a bronze metal rectangle and added it over the bottom left photo with "Happy Fathers Day 2012".

{It looks much better in person}  :)


He LOOOOVED IT!

what do you think?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

an *Update* and a big reveal of my new favorite thing!!!!

thankful #141: hope filled futures.readiness to fly.

{Lyrics: Priscilla Ahn, Dream}

I recently wrote this: http://myabrucedesigns.blogspot.com/2012/04/feeling-through-inner-walls-cracked.html

It briefly, and I do mean briefly - detailed some things I was struggling with.
I am happy to report a few updates.

The little man after week one of swim turned a major corner and it was such a RELIEF to watch him HAPPY in the water! Not only happy, but totally capable, and getting it, and swimming - - - at TWO! And able to save himself AT TWO! Such a proud, happy, more comforted mama I am for that! THANK YOU MISS COLLEEN!




Also, my happy little munchkins, and the bigger munchkin man made me this lovely art piece for Mothers Day. Which means someone is also paying attention :)
Painted by my awesome kidlets, and then I love how the hubs finished it by incorporating my sentiments from my last post, about "we keep climbing"
Awwww. so us.



Now for the big reveal! I've been hiding this little surprise for WEEKS! .... dun dun DUN!!!!!

So, here I am again very BRIEFLY just giving you some bullet points, but this has been a very hard school year for us. Hard because our daughter usually leaves school sad at the end of the day. Sad that anyone would want to be mean to her. Mean to her - every.day. {in FIRST GRADE!}
I almost think it's been more traumatizing on us than it has been on her. Nonetheless, at times it's been very very serious. We had a rough few weeks especially recently.

This is the kid that has always been one to stand out in a crowd. Always been smiling, laughing and just has this magnetic personality that attracts awesomeness. She has been like this since she was 6 months! I can honestly say I know it is unique because I was NEVER LIKE THIS! She loves EVERYONE, and loves them deeeeeeeply!!!!! When she was younger, it was always a horrific sad day to say goodbye to virtually anyone. She would miss the neighbor, she would miss the check out girl at the grocery store, she would miss the person at the post office. She just loved LOVED people. She wanted everyone to come home to play with her. She would hang out with the adults at the kids parties, she was just always the life of the party. I never imagined she would have a hard time socially. never.

{loveable.always} 
{magnetic.even with a pine cone}
 
{Tough.strong.confident} 
{happy.ALWAYS}
 
{goofy!} 
{serious.style.}
{hysterical.spunky.charmer}
 
{love of all things crab}

 
{always smiling, this face. love love love this face}




So when I started to worry about her personality/confidence/spark taking a dip.... I was desperate to grab on to it and remind her it was there before she forgot it.

She was always FEARLESS, and STRONG, and CONFIDENT and SPUNKY and HYSTERICAL!
I wanted that BACK!!!

So I had a momentary genius thought. I have a brilliant artist friend. In 8th grade we were "Leah1 and Leah2". She was already off the charts artistic at that age. And now here she is, creating comics, working for the NY Post, and other magazines and outside commissions. She is amazing. So I reached out to her and asked her if I could commission her to create a custom piece. A work of art of my girl. To remind her of who she is. To capture all her spunkiness, her laughter, her bright smile, her funky love of mismatched clothing, her bravery and confidence that she had when she was taking self defense classes, and then just put her somewhere beautiful, some place she loves, a happy place.
She has not been in a happy place since August.


Leah2 captured all of it. everything. I was beaming.




She got her gigormo turquoise bow headband, her classic-Addy red cowgirl boots, her ever-present funky leggings, the mismatched ruffle skirts, the boxing gloves she has from her classes, her love of the beach, (and crab!), and her victorious smile... on top of the world. This is how I see her.

This will forever be my favorite piece of art in the house. Like her own little comic book cover,
of Super-Addy, and everything beautiful that she represents.
I took the amazing image Leah made and had it printed on metal to make the colors pop. It looks AWESOME!

I could never thank Leah enough for this. It was the pick me up we all needed. It was a wonderful distraction to work with her on during some difficult weeks, and it is such a great reminder to us of our favorite little big girl. It's also a happy representation of what we have to look forward to. On to bigger and better things, and some happier places and some wonderful new memories to make. I'm so excited for her, and to see where she goes in this world, and to continue to watch her grow and blossom. The growing pains are indeed painful to watch her go through. She's figuring out that not everyone is kind, and she has a hard time standing up for herself because she doesn't want to be unkind back. But this girl is a rock inside. I know it. She is indeed strong, and she will overcome. And her kindness - - always prevails. We couldn't be more proud of who she is. I am especially proud that on her last day of school she received a character award - for "most friendly".
I cherish that quality in her. It was the best one I could have picked for her to receive! And so true!

You truly must go check Leah out. She is amazing and so fun to work with! http://leahtiscione.com/
I just love her. I could never thank her enough!!!!

And tonight we gave this sweet gift to our precious Addy.
She was ELATED!!!!
THANK YOU LEAH!!!!

And Tonight her little bro kept calling her "Addy superhero". She loved it. I love seeing her spirit look refreshed and renewed and rejuvenated. That was exactly the purpose. 
She's truly excited for a positive, hope-filled future

Thursday, April 26, 2012

"feeling through inner walls cracked"...

thankful #134: *rain on windows, creeping*

I get in these pent up contemplative phases, where I don't realize I sort of shut down and get quiet, because I'm just listening to all my inner thoughts. I'm sorting them, trying to dig deeper to find what the emotion is. Trying to sense my way through a maze by feeling it. And then I remember, like today when I'm driving and I can feel the rain coming, and I can feel my outside crashing and I remember what it is that I'm not doing, that helps me find my way. I need to write. I am in a place of feeling overwhelmed in many areas, and I just need to take a minute to jot out some thoughts so I can move some of these bits over to the 'let it go' column.
I had a teacher in 5th grade, Mrs. Burke. She told me kind affirmations about my needing to write. I grasped on to that, and believed her. Not like most things which I didn't really believe. I wish I could track her down.
I can see her happy face in my mind. She reminds me to keep writing.

I think I've been struggling because I'm in a place where I'm simultaneously watching both of my kids do things they don't want to do. It makes my innards ache. It makes me fret and feel the anxiety that I know they're also feeling. It makes me wish i could just say "sure, Ok, today we take the easy way". But I can't. I must make them face things that are hard for them, that they dread. I count the days down as they do. I go from shuffling one off to her battle zone, to face kids that are mean to her, to know that her self esteem has dwindled a little this year, to wish I could walk her through her every day. Wishing I could stand next to her with my armor on, and fight her battles, or jump a brick wall and save her from them. They are merely words, but I can see her spirit is tired. Mama is tired too. We count the days down, for the last 3 weeks, which i wish I could take from her. Take the easy route. But which is worse? We will not be conquered, and we will not run from our fears. And we will not let them win. I try to guard her heart, and be her home base, and to hope that she is being made into a warrior, and not instead trampled into a fearful puddle.


Then back home to prepare the other one, to try to build up his courage, to make him feel braver because I know he needs it. He must know how to save himself in water. This I know is a must. I know because my daughter saved herself at three, right after she graduated these lessons. The difference is that she loved every moment of her learning. She loved the water, she loved all of it. My boy - he hates it. He becomes an unrecognizable banshee screaming creature each and every day. I watch as the dread & panic slowly sets in for him, and I want to hug him and to let him keep holding on, but I have to let go. I have to know that what he is learning is more important. I have to trust in what I know to be true and I have to stick to the plan. He is taught with patience and kindness, and in a very safe environment, but boy is he angry. He screams for me, and I have to stay still. He has to learn this. I have to learn this.
I struggle because I am entirely outside of my comfort, and I'm trusting others with my most precious things, when I know they are sad and scared and wanting me. That knocks on me all day, like a giant, bullying, pecking duck. After a while it begins to break me. Not so much the swim lessons, but the bigger picture parts.
I am reminded as we near mothers day... all these things that us mamas have to be. I am not sure what I thought it would be, but it is surely a mighty mountain - and we climb it. We climb when it rains, we climb when it's rough, we climb when it's slippery, we climb when it hurts and when we are tired. And when we fall we cannot stay down, we have to climb again. It is a relentlessly hard journey but that is only because it is vitally that important. This is the journey we are given where failing is not an option. These littles are on loan to me - for a time. You can fail at work, you can fail the PTA, or on the soccer field, and you can fail in other places, but not here. Yes, in smaller bits - i feel like I've failed on a daily basis. But in the biggest, grandest picture of life - we can never stop the climb, we can never hit that button that says "give up" because it's the "easy" button.
And so I must remember to also not let my kids use this charmingly easy button in life. We get through it.
The only way out is through.
In it to win in.
We won't be taken down,
and we will keep climbing.
Never give up.
I am thankful for new days. There is grace in that.



Happy Mothers Day 
to all you various sorts of mothering people






"We may sorrow but we still sow. 
And though we are broken, 
we still bend and begin; we do our work though we weep.

We tell our hurts we must still do the task at hand if we hope to harvest; 
though we may not feel like it, the fields need seeds.

So we hang out the clothes as we try to hang on, and we stir the pot as all the pain spills, 
and we still sow though in tears, and let go of every seed, 
burying hopes and hurts in faith, 
and out of loss, new life will unfurl, our tears watering rows"...


Recent adds and thoughts on mamas


I believe there will be lots of happy mamas on Mothers Day.
I hammer little bits on tiny pieces and try to remember that each one will speak to their lives or represent their story or someone in their story. I am privileged to honor each of their journeys, their strengths, their weakness, their courage, and their bravery. It takes all of that and more to be a mom. Some days we need to remember just how tough we are, as it requires MUCH.






Friday, April 20, 2012

New up-cycled design

WATCH OUT MOTHERS DAY! I up-cycled some earrings for this, so there will only be ONE! I am LOVING this one. Long 33" chain with dramatic mix of beads and crystals and a bronze flower drop. Antiqued copper colored circle says "this is the way...walk in it". Inspired from a quote by Ann Voskamp:


"And listening to happy memories reverberating off inner walls cracked, I realize I don’t need a voice, I don’t need to know what to say, what to do. Maybe that isn't the first step for any of us. Maybe something else comes first.

Maybe before doing, before speaking --- maybe we first need to listen -- fervently, faithfully listen.

Listen, so that “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it."









I've got a few more in the mix, I just need to find the time to photo and upload....

PS - one more week to get in your Mother's Day orders! :)