{finding happy} momma and mugs

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Mom and dad have been traveling the world in their free time. For years, my “I love Alaska, Toronto, Japan, etc” souvenir Tshirt piled up in a corner of my closet. This time, mom asked me what souvenir she could bring back for me. I told her to grab me ONE mug from her favorite place with a story and that would be plenty. Well, as you can see, she came back with 11 mugs! Some from Starbucks (since she’s seen my growing set) and some from souvenir stands on her recent trip. And the story? This crazy mom of mine made the tour bus, taxi driver, and their traveling friends, stop whenever she saw a Starbucks. She yelled STOP! And explained to the bus driver that she needed 5 minutes to race in and buy a mug for her daughter because that’s all she wants and I have to get it for her. Of course I imagine her saying all this with her arms waving, very loud, with a thick Chinese accent, in Spanish, and halfway running out the door. And if you look in the corner, she also bought the obligatory “someone who loves me very much went to Athens and got me this Gift” mug. Oh, I love my mom.

{finding happy} bright

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We were on a stretch of highway that did not cut through a town. The horizon faded to my right and the hills rose on my left. A passing car flashed past and then there was darkness all around us again until I looked toward the horizon and saw a pinpoint of light.
It was the only star visible as the sun set and it shined brighter as the sky blackened. Its glow sharpened in contrast to the dark canvas. The light sparkled in the deepening night.
This picture encapsulates my 2013. It was a year that brought heartache and darkness. Yet, there was always hope. It was small and only a glimmer, but it shined. While I was unsteady, that light gleamed unwavering and became a focal point to right myself. I learned that I can be consumed in my darkest moments, or I can shine brighter in the night like that star.
I’m going to remember this year.
I came out brighter.
I hope to shine in 2014.

Wishing you all a bright and happy new year filled with aspirations and adventures!

{finding happy} presence

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Did you all find what you were hoping for under the Christmas tree?

While presents look great wrapped up in pretty packages and tied up with colorful ribbons, this year, I appreciate the gift of presence because I have been lucky enough to have been a recipient of such a valuable gift.
It’s a special gift to receive, but I’m finding that it’s more difficult to give. Presence requires attention that is undivided and engaged rather than distracted. That’s a tall order when there are so many things that fight for our time, stealing away moments.

The kids have countless toys that can occupy their time. There are even days when they’re calling for my attention, but I’d rather hide from their incessant noise. Rather than retreating to my favorite hiding spot, I will give them my presence. I will strive to show them that nothing else matters in that moment when I am with them because giving my presence will also reinforce that they are loved and worthy. I will be present because today is a gift.

{finding happy} ornament roundup 2013

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I wish I started our family traditions when my firstborn was a baby. Perhaps it was being overwhelmed as a new parent that I always felt I was one step behind with the kid. Once I mastered something with him, he presented me with another challenge. I don’t remember doing much looking ahead.
You’d think I’d have less time to look ahead juggling three kids now, but filling my children with traditions and memories that will remind them of happiness and laughter in their lives has become a priority.
Our Christmas ornament tradition started a few years back. Every year, each kid picks an ornament for the tree. I write their name and year on the bauble and set them up in a prominent spot, child height level, for their viewing.
I think the kids see it as a novelty each year. They like to check on their ornament daily and find ones from years past. I see it as a keepsake of each Christmas – a reminder for that year’s ornament excursion and a reflection of their interests at the time. One day I will pass along all these Christmas reminders for each child when they have their own tree. Nestled in the branches of their own Christmas traditions will be reminders of their Christmases past and many memories to go along with a simple ornament.

{finding happy} for the love of cookie

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Every year around Christmas time, I inevitably stay up way too late on too many nights decorating cut out sugar cookies. Since I don’t make them often, I have yet to perfect an efficient system of making the dough, cutting out shapes, baking the cookies, mixing the icing, separating colors, and actually decorating sugar cookies. My kids love them but these cookies are a production. Each time I make them I say, “Never again!”
Then the morning comes and each sleepy head makes their way into the kitchen to see trays and trays of decorated cookies and their faces light up. They hover over the table looking over each one, picking out their favorites.
“Can I eat this one now, mommy?” They implore with eyes wide and full of anticipation.
I give them a nod before I can recall the hours up past 2am, a broken mixer, uncooperative dough, 4 pounds of sifted powdered sugar, runny icing, stained fingers, and flour everywhere. A multitude of sleepless nights baked into a cookie that is consumed in a few bites.
“Mmmmm. Thank you, mommy,” they manage to mumble through crumbs and a smile.
Well…
I think I will have to start planning for next year’s cookies.

{finding happy} sisters

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This one is for my little sister who celebrated her birthday this week. We were never very close growing up. We shared a room, but that was about it. We fought constantly over clothes, the phone, who was mom’s favorite (it’s me, of course).
But I’ll let you in on a secret. I think she’s pretty amazing. She is loud and assertive and bossy, which translates to she always speaks her mind, she’s determined, and she has great leadership skills. She makes things happen.
While we may be polar opposites in our personalities, I’m lucky to call her my sister and have her in my corner. Sure, she’ll have some smart remark, roll her eyes, or sigh in exasperation with me, but I just smile and say, “I love you too, sis.”