a blog post a day in the month of may

i decided to challenge myself. i’ve gotten comfortable in the routine of my life, which is good, but i also don’t get a lot of time to do anything for me. well at least monday thru friday. i work at a job where all i do is give of myself, obviously, i watch small children! and then i come home to dogs that need my love and attention. and since i’m single, i’ve got no one else to do my laundry, or clean my house, unless you’re volunteering?

……but i digress.

so i’m going to try and carve myself some time once a day to blog. i can’t promise they’ll always be compelling but i promise they won’t all just be pictures of my dogs! 🙂

so what’s been going on with traci……..

at the end of 2013 i was itching for change. lots of change. i thought about relocating up north. i thought about moving within southern california. i considered a LOT of options, and that’s when i realized that the itch for change was that i was feeling what i used to call complacent. but at my age is actually what one calls stability! and i’ve worked my ass off to get to this place, i’m not going to screw it up now!!

so i readjusted my attitude, and i sat down and wrote a list of things in my life i was grateful for. and it’s interesting, just as the idea of stability has changed over the past 10 years, so has my list of gratitude. or at least my feelings about it.

they’re mostly boring, every day things, but i’m grateful because i have them and can afford them. i have a beautiful apartment that is all mine. two amazing dogs who i’d be lost without. my family. my friends and my ability to know who i am and what i want in my life.

i have a job that i love and that fulfills me. it exhausts me but not a day goes by that i don’t leave and miss those kids! i’m so glad that i found a way to do what i love and be able to support myself. people are ALWAYS asking what i’m going to do next, or what i’m looking to actually do and it always baffles me. for starters, i chose to do what i do and i hit the lottery with this family. i’ve been here 6 and a half years and i’m not going anywhere anytime soon!! hopefully when the baby goes to college he won’t mind my going too! 😉

what i love most about my job is that i get a daily performance review. i can see the rewards of my hard work. i have watched these children grow and blossom and change over the years and it’s the most amazing feeling you can have. almost more so than as a parent i dare say. because as a parent you expect to see you in them, but as a nanny, you never know how much of an impact you’re actually making, and it’s sure cool when you get to see it!

i have a little stay-cation coming up and i’m going to miss the kids TONS, luckily my room is covered with their faces everywhere i look, but i can’t wait to take care of some traci things. you know, all sorts of fun things! dentist. female doctor. eye doctor. dmv. good times are expected ahead! i sure now how to party during my time off! 🙂

this weekend is an amazingly monumental weekend in my family and i’m so very excited to share it with you, but i’m dedicating tomorrow’s post to it so please check back for more on what’s going on this weekend! it’s awesome!

i’m also really excited that oliver is going to get to have a playdate this coming week with his brother (litter mate??). for those of you that don’t know oliver’s story it’s freaking amazing. his mom sadie was rescued by People Loving Pets Rescue in february of 2011 on the day she was to be euthanized. they brought her home, cleaned her up and gave her some TLC. well a few weeks later, shock of all shocks she gave birth to 5 ADORABLE healthy puppies!! so oliver IS a rescue but i call him a clean rescue because he was born at my (now) friend alanna of PLP Rescue’s house! so because of that, i’ve been able to be in touch with the other 4 families that adopted his silbings. right now only two of us seem to be excited about this prospect, but it’s been 3 years and we can’t wait to see what the boys do when they see each other! i realize i’ve now just outted myself for having scheduled a doggy playdate, but come on, it’s his brother!!!! i can guarantee there’ll be some awesome pictures and videos of that!!!

lastly, i totally ignored my little blog’s 3 year anniversary in march, i was busy trying to decide what to write about and now here i am! anyway, my awesome friend susie of susie q designs once again helped me with a little design tweak on my blog! i’m loving the new header and background! (the link to her design business is on the right hand side about half way down the page!!)

well, there’s now a little man up from his nap waiting for me so it’s time for me to end this very compelling post (see i told you!). it’s a zillion degrees here in southern california……so if i don’t melt, i will see you here tomorrow!!!

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“i want to be a mommy when i grow up!!” ~ traci, age 3

i’m writing this post for  those i love and those i don’t even know traveling down a painful road.

i’m writing for those other women out there that want to be a mom and aren’t yet for one reason or another.

i’m not here to preach.

i’m not here to tell you what’s right for you and your family

i’m not trying to change your mind.

it’s just a story of a little girl who wanted to be a mommy when she grew up.

over the past year and a half as many of you know i was thrust into and now become very ensconced in the world of adoption. i feel very strongly that adoption is an amazing gift and a wonderful way to become a mom or dad, and there are so many babies and children out there that need families.

my eyes were opened about 6 months after i started nannying, he was 9 months old and, as i type this i vividly remember looking into his big blue eyes as i was dancing with his little 9 month old body, to bon jovi “it’s my life” (of course!!), and he was giggling those amazing belly laughs and smiling at me and i was too and it was at THAT VERY MOMENT that i realized…………..a child does not have to come out of you for you to love them with everything you are.

what a gift that was to learn.

i remember thinking at the time, what a powerful realization i had just experienced, “wow, i COULD love a baby that i care for and love even though he/she wasn’t part of ME physically.”

i knew from that moment, on that night, that as his nanny, i would do anything i had to, to protect him.

and that’s when i realized that if i couldn’t get pregnant which was always a giant fear of mine or if mr right didn’t show up, i COULD adopt, and i WOULD be absolutely fine.

because what i always wanted was………to be a mommy. and i would be.

i read stories of so much struggle with fertility. the pain. the losses. the multiple losses. they can’t help but become obsessed. and they cannot be enjoying their lives and they are in pain all of the time. it’s no life for anyone. the pain month after month after month. and it breaks my heart. over and over and over again for them. but i understand it.

…..because i too wanted to be a mommy when i grew up.

lately, it’s started me thinking. mostly about myself and a few of my close friends currently struggling to conceive and that’s when it hit me.

they want to be a mommy too.

and that lesson i learned with calen that 2008 spring night popped into my head.

what i had always wanted in the world was to be a mommy.

of course as a little girl i just assumed i’d get pregnant and have that baby. of course a zillion times over the years i put a ball in my shirt and pretended i was pregnant. of course i always assumed my becoming a mommy would come after 9+ months of pregnancy. don’t we all?? it’s what we grow up expecting as the role of the woman.

but let’s be honest, i also grew up thinking i’d be married by 27, and have 4 or 5 kids by 35. clearly, i’ve learned one must realize that their childhood images, aren’t always realistic. i’ve learned that there is no prince on a white horse coming to save you and that you can set as many lifetime plans as you want, but somehow, life ends up happening the way it’s supposed to, and for some of us, that’s a hard realization to come to when it’s not what you (thought you) had wanted.

so i started thinking about my friends and started thinking that maybe the picture of parenthood needs to change.

how could i share this lesson i learned and how powerfully it affected me?

if all i ever wanted was to become a mommy…….why does it matter how that happens??

whether it’s pregnancy? IVF? surrogacy? adoption?

at the end of ALL OF THAT…..there’s a baby and a mommy is made!!! 

the best analogy i can come up with is that it’s kinda like college. when you’re 18, the biggest deal in the world is “where are you going to college and what is your major gonna be??”.

at 25, it’s “what was your major and what are you doing now?”

at 38, let me tell you, no one gives a flying fuck if you took underwater basket weaving as your major.

isn’t that kinda just the same thing theoretically??

if you want to be a mom (or a dad) why does it matter how it happens, but THAT it happens.

why choose to suffer month after month and go through the pain and anguish so many do when there are so many other options and ways to become a mommy??

a pregnancy is 9+ months long.

 being a mommy………. that lasts a lifetime.

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something so small……meant so very much. <3

for all 38 years of my life valentine’s day has been a “holiday” in my family. my mom never wanted to miss an opportunity to exchange cards and presents and well, who was i to rebel against that??

we never got anything grandiose, generally a small trinket, piece of jewelry, for me, i have heart of heartsMANY MANY memories of getting personalized bracelets, necklaces and other various items since you can’t just go into a store and get something that says TRACI!! (well accept at Adele’s back in the day if you lived in the SFV you know what i mean, but i digress).

so every year, it has way more meaning to me than a holiday about a significant other. it’s a holiday to me that we express our love for those important to us. i love this tradition and i look forward to continuing it on with my family someday.

322_profile_img1_neccofor 28 years of my life, my adoring papa would send (or give to me) a box of conversation hearts. ALWAYS. and they always had a nice hand-written message on them. when we didn’t see nana & papa near valentine’s day we could ALWAYS count on them arriving in the mail, shoved into an envelope with a card “for a wonderful granddaughter”, in a somewhat powdery and inedible state, but, they showed up as expected, by february 14th EVERY YEAR as far back as i can remember. he even sent them to me at my dorm in college!!!

here’s a little secret….

I HATE CONVERSATION HEARTS. HATE. and i LOVE candy!

they are adorable to look at. to make words out of. even for fun art projects, but as far as conversation_hearts-210897eating them, i cannot remember the last time one crossed my lips. in fact, i could go open the yellow iron memory box on my bookcase across the room from me right now and likely find YEARS worth of conversation hearts in their boxes, covered in stickers and messages to me. i cherish these. ❤

papa died in september. there were LOTS of difficult dates that year that occurred immediately following his passing. yom kippur (as he died on rosh hashanah), halloween, thanksgiving, his birthday, hanukkah, new years and then……valentine’s was on its way. i remember silently feeling nostalgic that those conversation hearts that i hated would not be coming that year. i remember being sad but not devastated or anything. it was just another sign that papa was gone.

then something magical happened. okay, not magical, but it sounds better that way!!

when i opened my mailbox sometime the week of valentine’s day that year, there was a red envelope, addressed to me, with heart stickers all over it AND A BOX OF 399499911_0ffa926063_zCONVERSATION HEARTS IN IT. my mom had known how hard that would be for me and she took on the tradition. i’m not sure we’ve ever talked about what made her do that, and it’s probably a worthwhile conversation sometime this weekend. but, i remember, 10 years ago today standing in the entryway to the courtyard at the first barry avenue apartment, for those of you that can picture it, and i sobbed while holding a box of conversation hearts. i sobbed for my papa who was gone. i sobbed for the mother that i have that i don’t appreciate but took the time and the energy and the love she had for me to make sure even at TWENTY EIGHT years old i wouldn’t celebrate valentine’s day without papa’s conversation hearts.they became a “thing”. and i personally think it’s funniest for someone who never met a piece of candy she didn’t like that i don’t even open the boxes!!

i mean seriously, now they often get in the way! sometimes, i put them in a pile to throw away, and somehow, someway, they always end up back in the drawer they came out of until the next valentine’s day, when i then relegate them to a memory box.

tonight i got home from work and got my mail. i was excited to have two, not one red envelope! one from an amazing friend whom i love and adore and always seems to send a card at the perfect time (thank you kourtney! xoxo) and one from my mom with her usual “hand stamp” written all over it (apparently to keep the hearts from breaking this was what she and papa always did, to no avail i might add, but it IS the USPS after all and we ALL know my feelings about THEM!!!)

i digress.

so i came upstairs to my apartment. sat with the dogs. started to unpack and change from valentines-day-heartmy day, and i decided i needed to open the envelope. a GIANT no-no for my mom; you wait until the actual holiday to open a card. (don’t even ASK about hanukkah freshman year at college, HA! THAT ONE she still doesn’t know about!)

well, i rarely wait and tonight was no exception. i needed to open that card RIGHT NOW.  shhhh, don’t tell, but that’s probably why i had to write this, i can’t tell my mom until tomorrow. <—-oh this makes me giggle, i’m a grown-up!!!!

so i open up my mom (& dad’s) card which was beautiful, and my mouth dropped. my stomach dropped. and a tear rolled down my cheek. in fact i’ve stopped a few times while typing this to collect myself. what a flood of emotions!!! (and i can’t even call and cry to my mom! damn her and her stupid rule!!)

my mom and dad sent me a delicious heart-shaped, for those of you that don’t know, i LOVE heart ANYTHING 24/7, 365 and have my entire life. i own more than 18 articles of clothing with hearts on them, i own more than 15 pieces of heart adorned jewelry and as i look around my room there are 8 vividly placed, easy to spot hearts. the theme of my bat mitzvah was hearts. i love hearts. so without a doubt this was a thought out purchase by my mom to give me a little something different, (that i may actually eat!) and that happens to be gorgeously wrapped as well as a starbucks gift card.

but no conversation hearts. none.

my own heart stopped. fluttered. i stared at my bed for a few minutes in disbelief. then i looked at the envelope. i just starred at it. i felt the tears welling up in my eyes and my throat start to close as i begged myself not to start crying over conversation hearts.

why do i care i didn’t get a box of candy i don’t even like?

why am i crying over something i didn’t get when what i did get was even MORE thoughtful??

this isn’t supposed to be a sad post.

there’s a lesson i learned tonight i won’t soon forget and i wanted to pass along.

i’m not sad. i’m not disappointed. i’m touched. i’m honored. i’m lucky. i’m grateful and i’m blessed to have had 28 years with a papa who took pride and put love into everything he did, and passed that onto his daughter who did the same. and for 10 years, my mom carried on that tradition she knew mattered to me. even if i’m not sure at times i knew it did.

…..and trust me, i WILL be asking why she did send them for the last 10 years and what made her stop, i’m just curious and i will share when i get those answers but because of her “rules” i can’t let the cat out of the bag until tomorrow that i know what or wasn’t in the envelope!

i hope you all walk away from this with one clear message.

Valentines_Day_Heart_33540no matter how big or how small the gesture is, tradition, thoughtfulness and love mean more than you may ever realize. more than anything money can buy. i have hundreds and thousands of amazing memories with my papa and so many gifts i received, including my first car!!! but there’s always been something about those conversation hearts that meant the most to me.

as you create a home, remember the traditions you want to create. remember how insignificant they can be…….and remember how 38 years later they still will mean so very much. ❤

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my first post of 2014……

I’ve been oddly quiet on here for quite some time and I’m sorry.

Truthfully, since finding Kate and Chasing Rainbows, every free minute I have I’m pouring through her blog like it’s a best seller. Why I’m so invested in someone’s life I’ve never met and may never meet is beyond me, but this woman is hands down the most inspiring, incredible, motivating human being on the face of the earth. She single handedly along with her incredible son Gavin who is gone too soon, have reminded me what life is about. What is important in life, and helped me get back to a place I haven’t been in a long, long time.

It’s been so long I don’t even remember when I was here before.

Here, in this place called content. Called happy. Called appreciating life.

I had thought I would do an end of year post, and then with being sick (omg! I had H1N1 and was so sick. Luckily I didn’t know what I had until I was well or I would have been freaking out) and then enjoying the holidays and getting out of town for a week I just haven’t taken the time to write.

But tonight as I took a shower I remembered the way I felt the morning after I found Kate’s blog and how much I appreciated that shower, and I realized it wasn’t just THAT shower, it’s been every shower since.

I’ve chosen to be happy.

I choose to stop focusing on the negative and stop worrying about what I don’t have, but still want, and start appreciating all that’s around me. I’ve spent so long being sad and so long wishing for things that I have zero control over, I forgot what happy felt like.

It sure is peaceful.

It sure takes less work to be happy than it does to be sad and depressed.

Nothing new has happened. Nothing has changed in my life at all.  It’s me that’s changed. I got tired of hearing myself complain and not having a solution I could control. I’m funny that way, I’m not a rehasher, so spending the past 4? 6? 7? 8? years so miserable and sad hasn’t really worked for me. Life is full of challenges, you have a choice, to sit and dwell or to move on and smile and live your life.

Life isn’t fair. I’ve been hearing that almost my entire life (thanks Mom & Dad!). And Kate, of all people is BY FAR the best example I could ever share of someone who has been hit with one not fair thing after another. And then another. And of course, there’s always another. But she takes it in stride. She admits she has those moments of sad. The moments of despair. The moments of that ugly cry when there’s nothing else TO do. But she picks herself up, dusts herself off and moves on, and knows that these challenges thrown at her and her family were meant to shape her into the woman she is, and they’re just that, challenges, meant to be conquered. Meant to be beaten and meant to be fought.

Maybe that’s why Kate inspires me so much. We are so much alike. I mean REALLY alike. In a creepy, quirky, omg I don’t know anyone else like this kind of way. And maybe because I see myself in her and her stories of her life, that’s why in all these years of being on the other side of happy, therapy, medicine, friends, family……..nothing has helped me like she has.

Nothing has inspired me to take a look at ME until now.

So I guess this IS my first post of 2014……..I’ve chosen to be happy.

I will focus on the blessings in my life that I’m so grateful for.

I’m done dwelling on the negative.

The bad things that have happened to me.

The things that I have wanted all my life but still can’t reach.

I’ve lived SO MUCH LIFE in these 38 years and I’ve come so far from where I was just 10 years ago, I need to stand back and be proud of me.

I need to look around me every day and be proud of the things I HAVE accomplished.

The independent life I lead.

The gorgeous condo I rent.

An inspirational Nana who at 94 is sharp as a tack and one of my favorite people to talk to.

My wonderful parents who I’m grateful and lucky are in good health.

My brother and my amazing sister(-in-law) whom I’d be miserable without. We share a bond that only siblings can share, and no matter what, we will always share. I’m sorry it took me 38 years to appreciate it like it do now.

The extended family I’ve connected with on my own through Facebook, that I’ve been fortunate enough to forge a bond and relationship with, that I cherish more than I could ever express.

The “chosen family” I’ve been so fortunate to create and share so much with.

AMAZING friends both near and far, that have taught me more than I could ever thank them for and continue to remind me how lucky I am on a daily basis. ❤

My amazing dogs that I’ve kept alive (shockingly!!) for 8 years and 2.5 years.

My freedom!

My strength in the eye of adversity.

The gumption I had in 1999 to leave the world of radio and branch out into the crazy world of the internet. And then again in 2007 when I decided I needed to do something that would heal my soul. And make me smile and feel fulfilled every day.

The giggles & hugs & kisses of those 3 little munchkins I’m so lucky to have in my life and be able to share some truly awesome experiences with, including watching them develop and grow into incredible human beings.

The quiet kid-free nights and weekends where my only responsibility is to ME. 🙂

This year I choose to be happy.

I choose to see the good around me.

I choose to find happiness and fulfillment in the tiniest of things.

I choose to chase rainbows.

I choose to be grateful….and thankful….and appreciative, because with all I’ve got……I’m one lucky girl!

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Footnote: when I finished writing this post I went back and re-read my previous post that was from the morning after I found Chasing Rainbows, Kate’s blog. How amazing that such a small act by two amazing friends who were just “liking” a picture on FB truly helped to change my life. Thank you Taylor and Susie! xoxo

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Don’t forget to chase rainbows….

rainbow on water

Last night something amazing happened. A tiny act, yet monumental in my life. Something that has changed me forever. 15-hours ago I was a different person than I am now sitting here and typing this.

Why you ask?

While scrolling thru my FB feed while walking my dogs when I got home from work last night I saw that two of my friends had “liked” a picture of a gorgeous newborn baby. And the caption under it caught my attention.  When I got inside and settled in, I started to follow the link to the Facebook page that this picture had come from and what I found, I will never forget. It so profoundly moved me, I spent from 845pm until well after 2am pouring over this blog. Sobbing. In fact my eyes are still swollen and stinging from last night. It was THAT kind of crying.

Two friends, who have absolutely nothing to do with each other. One a sorority sister from college, a pledge sister from 20 years ago that without Facebook we would not be back in each other’s lives. (and of course for that I’m eternally grateful.<3)  The other friend, is someone I met completely through social media and has touched my life in the year that I’ve known her. She’s become a confidante, a friend and someone I admire. I was introduced to her through another amazing online friend I met a few years ago, who has also been an amazing source of comfort and friendship, also met by chance.

But nothing happens by accident. Nothing.

There’s no such thing as a coincidence either. (For those NCIS viewers, Gibbs is on to something with that.)

I NEEDED to find that blog last night.

I NEEDED to hear the story of the Leong Family.

I needed to be reminded the frivolity of my problems in comparison to those of so many fighting difficult battles out there.  It’s so easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day troubles we have.

The stress of a day with children.

The annoyance of traffic when you’re running late.

Coming up short on bills.

Not being able to afford the things that you want.

These are minor nuisances that we encounter and deal with.  They absolutely can frustrate us, bring us down, stress us out and cause anxiety. I know because I’ve been all those things and more over the past few weeks.

I kid you not, because I had no idea what rabbit hole of reading I was about to fall into, I sat riveted reading blog entry after blog entry on my iPhone! With my iPad and laptop just inches away, it took hours before my phone started to run out of charge and I decided I wanted to be able to read in a tad larger print and grabbed my iPad where I had trouble not staying up all night to continue reading.

And I read the most tragic story of my life.

I wanted to reach through the computer and hug Kate. I wanted to tell her that I admire her and that she has changed my life by her writing. Her outlook. Her strength.  Her poise.  Her honestly as brutal as some may have found it, I found refreshing. Sometimes life sucks. Sometimes just being sad and upset and crying is all we can do.  But with the incredible pain and loss that Kate and her family has endured she stands there and tells her story, and that’s what it is, a story, of the road they’ve traveled to become parents.  The life they’ve endured caring for a special needs child who was never supposed to survive but lived for 5.5 wonderful years.  Kate likes to credit her son, her 5.5 year old angel Gavin with being a superhero.  I think Kate is a superhero. She never preaches. She never made me feel uncomfortable for not sharing the same faith.  Yet as I read her entries one after another and another, and yet another, word after word echoed the feelings I was having. Or feelings I’ve had in the past. I found myself crying, but saying “Yes! Yes! She gets it. This is it!” so many times in the course of those 5-hours last night.

I don’t know that I could ever endure what Kate and her family has and come out the other side, but as she says on her blog, no one thinks they can but somehow we do.

When I finally decided I had no choice but to close up my iPad and try to get some sleep I knew that I was changed. I felt it inside. I wrote both of those friends above that I mentioned that introduced me to this moving experience and thanked them.  Without knowing they had done so, without thinking about anything but simply liking a picture on a page that thousands of thousands of people follow, they had changed my life.

And nothing happens by accident.

When I got out of the shower this morning, I grabbed my towel and thought, “wow, that was THE BEST shower I’ve ever taken!” and then thought, wow, I would never had thought anything about a 7am shower before work before last night. To me a shower is a “have to” something I do but don’t find enjoyment or excitement in it normally. It’s just another chore in our lives.

Then it was time for preschool drop-off. I absolutely adore the school, it’s absolutely amazing, but the parking sucks. Well we turned onto the street and POW! Rock star parking!! And I smiled.  I smiled because it was more evidence of how much reading about the Leong family had changed my life last night. How Kate had inspired me to find happiness and beauty in the little things, because life is made up of a lot of little things, and sometimes, those little things, those are the things that keep us going every day.

For those of you that know me personally or those of you who have been following my teeny blog for the past few years know that the past 4 years of my life have been less than stellar. There’s been heartbreak. There’s been sadness. There’s been uncovered repressed memories.  There’s been drama and turmoil and unhappy times.

Music has ALWAYS been my outlet. Sometimes writing, but that’s a newer outlet for me. There have been songs that have changed my life entirely.  They’ve inspired me to make decisions in my life I’m not sure I would have ever made had I not really heard that song. So I’m not being dramatic when I say that “meeting” Kate and her family has changed my life as well.

The song “Something More” by Sugarland inspired me to leave my job in corporate America working for CNET, to do something that made me feel fulfilled. It led me to where I am now. Just a song. A song that was written and sung for millions of people and may just be a song to so many but is and always will be so much more to me.

When I hear it, I can remember how I felt listening to it day in and day out when it first came on the radio, and how when I was really listening I realized it was talking to me.

There’s gotta be something more
Gotta be more than this
I need a little less hard time
I need a little more bliss
I’m gonna take my chances
Taking a chance I might
Find what I’m looking for
There’s gotta be something more

Some believe in destiny, and some believe in fate
I believe that happiness is something we create
You best believe that I’m not gonna wait
‘Cause there’s gotta be something more

Those words, in just the chorus and that one verse, they changed me.

And last night, Kate’s story, Kate’s battles, Kate’s life stories, they changed me.

I will never be the same, and I’m glad.

I will never take things for granted.

I will never think poor me ever again over something trivial.

Kate inspired me.

Gavin, her son’s story inspired me.

I WILL be talking about them a lot more, and I will be starting a project of giving in Gavin’s name, which was Kate’s wish on her birthday last April.

To partake in random acts of kindness in Gavin’s name or with Gavin on your mind. I try to do them often, but, it’s easy to get stuck in your own sadness, own grief, own crazy life and forget. I won’t be forgetting any time soon. Gavin changed me. Kate changed me more. Gavin was a superhero in his short little life, but Kate is the ultimate hero in my eyes.

“You truly can find hope and inspiration and important life lessons in your own lives…….even when the path seems impossible to walk” ~ Kate Leong, as part of the Eulogy she read at Gavin’s funeral in April 2013.

If you haven’t clicked on any links above, because obviously I want to share this family, this story with everyone I can, please check out her Facebook page “Chasing Rainbows” or her blog/personal journal at www.KateLeong.com

If just one person is inspired by their story like I was, it will make me happy.

Thank you for reading this ramble of emotions.  This epiphany of sorts.  Thank you for standing by me always. Thank you for allowing me to begin my hobby of writing and being here to read it and make me feel validated. Thank you for being you, because I am so blessed and lucky and I don’t want a day to go by without remembering that. ❤

………….and remember, don’t ever forget to chase rainbows.

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This Blows!!!!

Consider this your PSA of the day…….for all of those of you who do any online shopping thru Amazon or any of it’s partner sites including Wag.com, Soap.com, Diapers.com, et al, as of December 1st, 2013 the United States Postal Service has now taken over the contract from On-Track and are now doing all of those deliveries.

The downside is now it’s USPS delivered which is unreliable. And it’s now postponing regular mail delivery because these deliveries take precedence over “standard mail delivery”.

For example, last night my REGULAR USPS mail was delivered at 7:30pm PST by a never before seen postal carrier which is what sparked my interest as to what was going on, mail delivery is normally there by 6pm, which is still fairly late.

Bright side that they want us to believe is that they will now be delivering all Amazon & partner site packages on Sundays as well. However, I am not 100% clear if that means it’ll be a standard delivery or additional charge for Sunday delivery.

And this is not just a move for the holidays, it’s apparently a multi-year contract between Amazon and the USPS.

Good times. Hope this doesn’t ruin a good thing!

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….and on the 8th night of Hanukkah, we learn something new!

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Well, they say “you learn something new every day” and while the older I get the more I find that to be true, I will admit it’s been quite some time since I’ve learned anything about Judaism or a Jewish holiday I haven’t already learned and then subsequently taught.

On this, the last night of Hanukkah 2013, I decided that rather than tell about my Hanukkah this year (which has been THE BEST one in as long as I can remember!) or tell you the story and traditions of Hanukkah, I would share with you this amazingness I learned this year about Hanukkah!

One of the things that I love most about being Jewish, and let’s face it, it’s not easy being Jewish in a Christian world this time of year in 2013, is that we are accepting of everything and everyone AND everything have meaning. Sometimes, like in this case, dual meaning. Both positive and amazing.

We know that we light the Menorah to commemorate the oil found in the ancient templeMenorah_PalBell that was only to last one day but by a miracle it lasted 8-days. Hence we celebrate Hanukkah and light 8 candles. But what I learned this year is that each and every candle has a corresponding meaning behind it and when put together they are the most touching, amazing group of words that actually made me teary eyed when reading.

I WANT this to become my tradition, to remember what each of those 8 candles signifies every single time I light them. I hope you do too!

So here goes……

On the first night, when we light the candle we want to think of the world “FAITH”. The Maccabees who fought to rededicate the Temple and found the oil were people who had faith. The victory was a demonstration of their faith. But faith can be shown in ways other than war.

There is a faith we have in God. There is a faith that we show by our behavior toward other people. We must have faith too, in our nation. This we must demonstrate by taking part in its activities and by living out lives as decent and respectable citizens.

There is the faith that we must have in our parents and the faith that they must have in their children.  There is the faith that exists between student and teacher, doctor and patient and husband and wife.  Finally, there is the faith of all people in each other.

Things will not always turn out well, but we must have faith enough to overcome our disappointments and our frustrations.  We must have faith that most people believe more in good than they do in evil.

As you look at the first candle, we all think of these different kinds of faith.

On the Second night when we light the candle we think of the word “Freedom”.

Freedom, the state of being free is a big, big word.  It is a word that has guided the destiny of the world. People since early days have searched for freedom of many kinds.  We who are American Jews are very fortunate, because we inherited a great tradition of freedom.

Freedom, however, is a flame that needs constant tending.  We cannot keep a flame going without adding fuel of our determination to keep free.

We must remember that freedom is not something that we should selfishly cherish just for ourselves.  We must be willing to help people all over the world to be free.

As we look at the two candles of Faith and Freedom burning together, we know how closely related they are to each other and how much brighter the candle of Faith seems to burn with Freedom beside it.

menorah-style-hanukkah-wallpapers-1024x768 The 3rd candle stands for the word “Courage”.

Courage comes to our mind in many ways.  We think of David, a young boy armed with a slingshot, coming forth to meet a giant.  We think of Lincoln, a poor boy, with no opportunity for real study, who developed his beliefs and his courage and led his country through the greatest civil war of its history.  We think of Franklin Roosevelt, a man crippled by disease, who fights his way back to be one of the greatest men in American history.  We think of our President, Barack Obama, who has broken barriers and set a precedence in this country by being the very first African American President of the United States.  We think of Israel, a little nation fighting to find its way to security.

We can have wonderful ideals, but they are meaningless if we do not have the courage to fight for them.  We can have faith, but unless we have the courage to express it and stand up for it, it disappears.  We can believe in freedom, but if we do not have the courage to fight for it, it will cease to exist.

As we look at the 3rd candle, we must think of how fortunate we are in our American and Jewish tradition to have demonstrated faith, freedom and courage.

So far we have lit 3 candles, Faith, Freedom and Courage.  Now these become brighter and stronger as we light the fourth candle, “LOVE”.

We cannot have faith unless we have love for it. We cannot believe in freedom unless we love it.  We cannot be brave in our hearts unless we love something dearly enough to fight for it.

Love is a beautiful word. It is soft and warm to the ear. Love is an all-inclusive word. We love God and we love our nation.  We love our children and our parents.  We love friends and relatives. We love an ice cream soda and a football game.  We love a holiday or a rainy day. We love to get sunburned r we love a walk through the pine forest.  We love hot dogs or a poem. We love painting or a frolic in the snow……all kinds of love for so many things.

We love our history and our religion.  We love the feeling of health in our bodies. We love to think of good things about others and we love to see someone we adore.  We love the sight of a flag flying in the breeze.  We love the color of flowers against a green lawn.  We love the distant clip-clop of a horse’s hooves.  We love the sound of car tires going through a pool of water.

All of these things that we love enrich our lives.  We cannot enjoy love if we try to hurt others, rather than help them.  God has given us the miracle of life and we can enjoy it better if we love god for what he has given us and love the life He has granted to us.

The 5th candle stands for Charity.

Charity is an important part of our lives. The Hebrew word for charity, Tzedakah, does not mean quite the same as the English word.  In Hebrew, it means “righteousness”.  In English it means helping those who are less fortunate.

There is a good reason to link righteousness with charity.  It helps to protect the feelings of those who receive charity.  It saves them from embarrassment. Most people prefer to earn their own way to be in a position to take care of their bodies when they are sick, to pay for their own food when they are hungry, to buy their own new clothing when the old is worn or to find their own shelter when they are homeless.

But the world we live in is an uncertain world. Disasters DO happen.  The more fortunate must help the less fortunate.  We must not only give things, but we must also give of ourselves. We must give kindness and show understanding, tolerance and patience. These things bring comfort and ease pain.  The real pleasure of giving will teach us the true meaning of charity.

We come from a people who have a tradition of giving.  As Americans and as Jews, we must continue this tradition and give readily and generously.

On the 6th night as we light the candles which makes this pool of light shine with greater brilliance than ever before — that word is “INTEGRITY”.

This is a hard word.  It means honesty.

If we have integrity, we will stand up and be counted when we are asked to state our opinions on issues.

If we have integrity, we will not cheat. If we have integrity, we will do our share of the work and not shirk our responsibilities.

If we have integrity, we will keep our faith bright. If we have integrity, we will preserve freedom, we will place courage high; we will respect love; we will give charity. If we have integrity, the Ten Commandment will be laws that we respect.

All of the ideals we understood above, would be useless without the candle for the 7th night which stands for “Knowledge”.

Knowledge brightens the world. If we had not gained any knowledge, we would remain as we were at birth.

God sets a pattern for our development, and with this development comes our ability to gain knowledge. All of the little things that we later take for granted, we must first learn, and as we learn them, we have knowledge.

And with knowledge, we now the value of faith, the joy of freedom, the pride of courage, the tenderness of love, the warmth of charity and the comfort of integrity.

Tonight, on the 8th night we light our final candle.  Tonight’s candle signifies “Peace”.real menoral pic

While we celebrate the struggles of the Maccabees, in reality we celebrate the peace that their victories earned for us. When we look back at all the period of warn in our history, as Jews and Americans, we see the heroic acts of our fighting men and women, but we are happiest because of the gift their victories brought – the gift of peace.

People have sought peace since the beginning of time. Along with that search for peace has come the question of peace at what price.

We speak of a peace in which all people live in equality and dignity, a peace in which no one is ashamed to say what he/she thinks or believes, where children grow up unafraid of bombs and guns, where people have learned to love each other and respect what others think cherish where they may travel to any port and to any mountaintop, where a white person lives with a black or a brown or a red or a yellow person without prejudice, where anyone can live with freedom from want, freedom from war freedom from fear.

America’s own symbols such as the Liberty Bell and the words on our great seal, are word from the Torah. So, as American and as Jews, we can rededicate ourselves to the ideal of Peace.

So as you watch the Menorah burn brightly tonight, remember these eight ideals that we have been blessed with. Remember what they stand for.  Remember how blessed and lucky we are.  Faith, Freedom, Courage, Love, Charity, Integrity, Knowledge and Peace. ❤

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(The above was taken from literagy from Stephen S. Wise Temple in Bel Air, CA and adapted from an original script by Dory Scharey)

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As the leaves change, it reminds me it’s time for some change…….

This post is not easy for me to write. In fact I’ll be honest it’s been in my head for over a month now and because I’m so emotional and sensitive about it I think it’s just been easier not to write at all.

I HATE being a Debbie Downer.

I HATE that there are people close to me who only know me as someone that’s always down.

I HATE that I no longer can see the glass is half full in my life.

I HATE that I’ve allowed people into my life and into my heart who have abused that privilege and my kindness because they’re too selfish to care about anyone but themselves.

I HATE that I’ve been dumb enough to allow these relationships to begin and much less continue.

I HATE that we live in a world of social media where one believes it’s ok to hurt someone IN REAL LIFE, but then can’t understand why one would unfriend or unfollow them.

I LOVE social media. It has hands down changed my life. But it’s not perfect. I’ve been too trusting. I’ve cared too much. I’ve given too much of myself.

I’ve begun to make some BIG decisions for my life.

Some I’m ready to share, some will be in an upcoming post dedicated specifically to those changes and my future.

I cannot continue down the path I’m on.

I will not continue to allow people I love (or once loved) to control my feelings.

I need to surround myself with only those who REALLY support me.

I need to surround myself with people who REALLY care about me.

I need to eradicate those from my life both IRL friends and online friends (and online friends that became IRL friends) that are just following me on social media for gossip purposes but don’t ACTUALLY care to have me in their lives.

This life I’m living is rough.

It’s hard to wake up each morning.

It’s getting harder and harder to slap a smile on and pretend I’m ok.

I’m nowhere near where I want to be in life, and not for lack of trying or unadulterated longing.

This time of year is really hard to begin with. The holidays. The happy people and happy families. The lavish vacations I wish I could take.

It highlights the lonely. The sad. The longing for what I want so badly but can’t seem to find.

Not many can truly understand this. I’m grateful that I have several people close to me who do.

It doesn’t mean I begrudge YOUR happiness!!

It doesn’t mean I feel no one should be happy!!

That’s ABSOLUTELY UNEQUIVOCALY not what I’m trying to share. And if you REALLY know me, you know that others happiness makes me happy. That’s what makes me tick. I truly, honestly whole-HEARTEDLY am happy when someone I care about is happy! I love them enough that they deserve the blessings life has brought them.

But it doesn’t change the lonely and hurt inside of me.

There’s nothing you can do but be my friend.

Give hugs.

Remember those around you in my same shoes.

Remember not everyone is as blessed as you are.

Remember how lonely this time of year can be for so many.

Don’t get so wrapped up in you’re own life that you forget about those that need you.

It doesn’t take more than 30 seconds or less to send a text saying ” thinking of you! xoxo”, “miss you! xox”, “sending you a digital hug! xo”.

DO YOU know how much that small gesture could mean to someone??

I triple dog dare you to text and/or email someone you don’t normally talk with regularly OR have lost touch with for no reason at all, every day between now and the end of the year to brighten their day. It costs you nothing. But could mean the world of difference to someone. It could make their day. It can save a life.

I was once told a story about a college girl who was ready to commit suicide. She was sitting on her bed with bottles and bottles of pills. She saw her phone light up and looked and out of nowhere someone she hadn’t talked to in a while sent her a text and all it said was “thinking of you”, and you know what, it made her remember there were people out there WHO DO care. Who did love her. And instead of taking her life, she got help. Unknowingly that small little token, saved a life.

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Some things that I love….

Suddenly I’m back at the blog and since it was time for my 200th post, I decided to write about the things that I loved, it seemed appropriate!  Forgive the excitement, I’m sure I’ll fall off the wagon again here soon! LOL. But in the meantime, I wanted to share with you some of the newer things I’ve acquired and or re-purposed and put together and LOVE!!! I’m notorious for using things in different ways around my house, so you never know what and where something will turn up! In my room today, in the kitchen tomorrow! 🙂

imageMy amazing minky duvet cover purchased on Etsy in the Fall of 2012. I’m normally very fickle with my bedding and this FOR SURE goes down as the longest I’ve ever gone without changing it up! (I’ve changed many other things, but always worked it around the minky!!)

Also pictured, my “I had to own” gray & white chevron throw blanket that I definitely didn’t need, but couldn’t live without!! I found it at a discount store here called Tuesday Morning. It was $14.99 and I couldn’t NOT buy it. Afterall between the dogs and the kids, I seem to loose A LOT of blankets! 🙂

The two owls are handmade from a shop on Etsy. I love them and I find that they cheer up my room a bit. And…..the dogs and I all seem to use them as little pillows quite often!

An AWESOME shabby chic looking fringe hanging from my ceiling by SandandStarfish.  Check out her stuff if you haven’t, she’s so creative and a doll to work with! I’m getting ready to have her do a full length of my wall hanging fringe in gray, yellow & white! I’m so excited! My custom Princess block is by none other than my amazing friend Andrea at Bubblewrappd who is truly a creative genius.  I just adore her stuff. The blocks make me happy, and they make me feel less alone because I know someone else has had those same feelings. And don’t get me started on how awesome her blocks are to give as gifts! Check out her shop and tell her I sent you!

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One of my favorite quotes in a Target white wood frame. Simple, yet cheery and perfect. 🙂

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I LOVE this piece.  Purchased at Pier One a few years ago, it was quite the find and I am sorry I didn’t buy two!! Right now it’s home to some older pictures of the kids, but, it’s just an awesome decorative addition.  It’s got 12 teeny tiny little clips and you just hang pictures or artwork or anything you’d like to from them! It’ll double as a holiday card holder soon enough!

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Well, first of all, I LOVE LOVE LOVE the new dresser piece I bought from some friends that for now is being used as an entertainment center in my room and storage down below! It’s just perfect for me now and I love it. I’ve come up with at least 5 other uses for it in my house so I have a feeling it’ll be popping up in different places in future posts!

And of course, MORE Bubblewrappd blocks!! Motivating and inspiring me always! ❤

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This shelf is one of my favorite! Unfortunately for now it’s wedged into a corner and while I get to enjoy it all the time, it’s EXTREMELY oddly positioned to try and get a decent shot! It’s a 3 shelf white bookcase and on the bottom 2 shelves I have rugged, metal yellow bins with covers on them currently filled with “stuff”.  They house all that stuff that would be out on the dresser or my desk if I didn’t have! What’s pictured here is the top shelf and like I said, one of my favorites! An awesome lamp, picked up at Target 5 apartments ago for my living room! See, re-purposed! The vase and the frame are both from Cost Plus, and are a coordinating mustardy yellow color that blends well with the rest of my room.  I love the way the black & white picture of the kids looks in the frame. And the Bubblewrappd blocks say it all!

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I once got sad because I was worried some day I would have to put this piece away. It was my very first custom piece with Andrea of Bubblewrappd and it’s magnificent and I love it more and more everyday.  The yellow block used to have a turquoise one there, but when I switched up the accent color in my room Andrea made me a yellow one to switch out and it totally looks like a new piece!

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While I know this is the serenity prayers used in Alcoholics Anonymous and many other faith based programs, I just love the meaning. It’s something I struggle with daily and I finally found a wall hanging with it that is perfect.  It reminds me I can’t control everything, sometimes you just have to sit back and try to enjoy the ride. Hard for me to remember so this is awesome!

 

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My other favorite part of my room!! This picture just melts my heart. I love that you see no faces, and in fact it could be in black & white or as shadows but just looking at it, I can hear the giggling and see the smiles and it melts my heart. ❤

20131110-230438.jpgThis is a fun piece! I found the jewelry/necklace case at Marshall’s a few years ago. It’s gone through a few different organized uses but has housed all of my Inspired by Finn Amber necklaces for quite some time now! And may have possibly helped me become a bit of a hoarder of amber necklaces!!! They’re all different sizes, designs, shapes, colors and I DO share with a certain 3.5 year old someone with a penchant for things that are jewelry and mine!!! LOL!

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I re-purposed by cubes and switched out the canvas bins and put yellow because that turquoise just got to be way too overwhelming, it was EVERYWHERE!!! So I moved the chevron runner found on Jane.com (previously VeryJane.com) and someone who’s never owned a runner before I’m a total fan now because I love the little accent it gives and it’s easy to move and change, and yet it’s super subtle! I recently moved the mirror shown here from my entryway.  It looks great there, but I LOVE it here! It totally adds to that little area of the room and it’s perfect. Also seen are my lemonade Scentsy warmer and 3 ADORABLE nesting Owls from my Lindsay from my birthday a few months ago.  They’re supposed to be measuring cups but I love them too much to use them that way and risk them breaking! And of course the Faith~Hope~Love decal above the mirror makes me smile! I found it at Target a while back and it finally looks just perfect the way it sits above that mirror!

20131110-231002.jpgAnother awesome birthday gift from Lindsay!! I love this picture, on a canvas hanging high above my TV and starred at CONSTANTLY! Yes there are a lot of words around my room, but I read them all and each one has important meaning to me and hits the spot on a certain day, at a certain time, just when I need them.

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I found these chevron light switch decals on Jane.com and then ordered more directly from the Bugzy Boutique on Etsy.  They were the easiest things to apply and I love how they add just a teeny tiny little accent to the room. I have them all over the house, and they look great!

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I needed a new tissue box cover. I use A LOT of tissue so I always have several boxes around my house.  This one sits next to my bed but for lighting purposes I photographed it on my chevron runner (which might be a chevron overload, sorry!).  I found this yellow & white cover at Octavia Street on Etsy.

20131111-000741.jpgAnd THIS, lastly, but one of THE most important to me, is my Bubblewrappd custom “crate” or basket. Andrea’s work is amazing, and I so enjoy looking at it! Right now it’s housing some paperwork on the bottom covered by my JellyCat stuffed animals for now!! It’s a crate full of furry love! ❤

Thanks for taking the time to see what it is I’m in love with these days!

I know there’ll be more in the future and with the holidays OF COURSE a special holiday edition soon!!

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the converse princess

i needed a nickname, i was tired of using the same one over and over and over again. and i’m feeling like a different person over the past year or so, and i wanted something that described ME.  i know part of it is spending all my time with toddlers and small children, and the rest of my time, sharing my house with my house guest, but i’ve reverted back to Converse_boxbeing 2 and saying MINE MINE MINE all the time!!!!

i spent a lot of time thinking about it. some friends tossed ideas around. they suggested i  use my dogs names, use the word nanny in it, but nothing was jumping out at me. nothing felt like me.

then i suddenly in a sleep deprived, exhausted state, busted out with “the converse princess”.

i’m so digging it and so confused as to how or why no one has ever called me that until now is mind-boggling! LOL. it’s just so obvious!!!

if you haven’t figured out already, i’m a bit of an enigma as my best friends would say.

i have likes and dislikes that don’t go together and wouldn’t be something someone would assume about me.  as my best friend puts it, just when she thinks she knows everything about me (which she does!) she says she discovers something new i do or don’t do, or like or dislike that are significant. i don’t know, i’m not trying to be secretive or mysterious. i’m an open book for goodness sakes! i’ve just gone through lots of change in my lifetime! so many different chapters make up my 38 years.

so, that’s how the new nickname came to be!!

i live in converse. i wear them relatively nonstop! i have 6 pairs now, i used to have 8-10 but that’s a long story. i wear them with skirts, dresses, pants, shorts, pj’s, you name it, there’s nothing that can’t be worn with a great pair of chucks.

……and well i’m no princess, but i’m not athletic nor outdoorsy and i have seriously annoying issues with public restrooms so i have often been called a princess. and i’m starting to think there’s nothing wrong with that, i mean, i even have an amazing tiara, so there!

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my new AMAZING Alisa Michelle necklace custom made with the Converse Princess on it. I absolutely adore it and wear it proudly on my neck! it makes me so happy and excited.

To find Alisa Michelle Jewelry click on the link to her site! I promise you won’t be disappointed. Click here!

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