Monday, December 8, 2008

A Christmas Creche

Last weekend I went to a Christmas crèche exhibit our church put on. Hundreds of borrowed nativities were displayed from around the world, and to enter the transformed gym stilled me.


Initially, I was most touched by the volunteers who gave this gift to any and all who wanted to receive it. December has a natural way of filling up with shopping and Christmas parties and gift- wrapping and Santa Claus and other wonderful things, and logically, I couldn't understand how anyone could squeeze a week of setting up and taking down nativities into all the other Christmas festivities December claims. I wish I could hug each person who caught vision of what a sight like this could do for a person. I thank you, every last one of you. I was touched by the true spirit of Christmas on Friday night, and it felt wonderful after my frenzied day of shopping.

The scattered thoughts that tumble round my brain tirelessly stopped as I hushed at the scene before me: live Christmas music swirling around a beautiful Christmas tree, the carols dancing between the countless scenes depicting Christ's birth. There were nativities of all kinds, both big and small, inexpensive and ornate, crafty and elegant.

The lighting was dim, but Christmas lights speckled the low light, reminding me of the star that led the wise men and lit the heavens the day Christ was born. I had my camera, thinking I might like to snap a picture or two--what an understatement. I couldn't stop taking pictures. I went from nativity to nativity, first trying to find the baby Savior in each scene. I’d find Him and then fiddle my camera’s settings so He was in focus. I'd crouch down low or tippy toe higher to try and find Him in the perfect light or most appealing angle. I did this hundreds of times, and each time I found and then focused on Him, I was moved, my teary eyes often bringing everything back out of focus.

I couldn't stop thinking about how analogous this process I was going through with my camera was to life. I really believe that this life is a test to see if we will find the Savior in this busy world, and then focus on him with our all. I believe the story of the baby Jesus and his perfect life filled with the most meaningful types of gifts—primarily gifts of healing. Whether he healed hearts, eyesight, or skin diseases, always, he was healing. And always he is healing. To notice his healing hand, all we must do is find Him, focus on Him and follow Him. Taking pictures of an array of Christmas creches reminded me of that.

*Merry Christmas to all of you! This will likely be my last post for the year. Until next year, have a wonderful Christmas with your loved-ones. Squeeze them, kiss them and heal them when they're broken. And most importantly, remember Him who has taught us so perfectly how to love.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

I Won!

Okay, so you guys, if I think of another to-do to accomplish before Thursday's flight home for Christmas, I think my head will burst. I don't have time to blog, but here I am blogging. My heart races a bit at my irresponsibility, but I just got the greatest news that makes my heart race more. I bounced into the living room to tell Magnet my good news and I didn't get the girly reaction I needed. (And I'm fine with that.) So, now I'm announcing my good fortune to the blogosphere.

Anyway, I won! I won a giveaway, an awesome giveaway! Stuff like this doesn't happen to me.
I can't even believe it. It's from this professional photo blog I follow. Jamie Sampson is her name, and she is my photo idol. I want to be her...minus the pet photography. I mean, she does a stunning job, but I am not a pet person and I can't even imagine the day I'll be photographing pets. Jamie is such a lovable personality and photography talent, and she did this photoshoot for Happy Little Artist clothes and I won a cute, cute, CUTE skirt and headband of my choice. Problem is I can't decide which one I want! Any input on which headband/skirt combo? It's for Maggie.

So, that's my fabulous news. A big smile for giveaways. I think this makes up for my bad week. :)
PS. If I were wise, I'd tell you that this is my last post before we head out, but there's this post in my brain that needs to come out. So, you're not rid of me yet!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

When Daddy Comes Home

This is such a happy sight--when Magnet comes home. It was especially sweet today, so I thought I'd share some pictures. While getting ready to post this, I asked Maggie what she loves about her daddy. She broke out into song and these were the lines I caught:

"I love meeeee when Daddy comes home."

"My daddy is about thanks."

"I love my people, I love my people."



Tuesday, December 2, 2008

First and Third


I got my first speeding ticket on Sunday---boohoo. I was driving my sister to the airport, and we were running late. I had no idea I was speeding, but I was going 55 in a 40 zone, thinking it was 60. I never speed! There were six cops loitering in this construction zone, reigning swarms of speeders into their money trap. It was just plain mean, the way they were ticketing people. They were pulling people over by the dozens.

A cop made eye contact with me, jabbed the air in my direction with his pointer finger and reigned me in with his thumb. I wonder what he would have done if I had pretended not to see him. And I hate it when they always say something about how they could have made it double, but didn't out of niceness. They always say stuff like that. I should have cried.

I did cry this week--the ugly cry--(and I rarely cry) when I got mastitis for the third time since having Liam. I'd like to blame speeding ticket stress on why I got sick with mastitis--how's that for dramatic? If you don't know what mastitis is, google it. That's what I should have told my twelve-year-old brother to do when I was chatting with him earlier today. He asked me how I was doing. I told him I was sick. He asked me what I was sick with. I said mastitis. "What's mastitis?" he wanted to know. "Uh, an infection you get from nursing," is what I said. Not exactly accurate, but whatever. The truth would have been awkward for me to spit out.

I'm feeling lots better today, and quite accomplished. I got dressed. I bathed my kids. I did a couple of loads of laundry, and that's about it! I'm excited for the old me to return. Until then, I'm thankful for my Magnet who's helped carry me through this cloudy week.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Crazy Lady Shopping

My friend refers to shopping on Black Friday as "crazy lady shopping." I think it's such a fitting phrase! My sisters and I followed the crowds and went shopping in the wee hours of Friday morning--a first for all three of us, and I just wanted to report my feelings and what I learned from the experience:

1. Don't bring your sister who's penniless and isn't a morning person. She ended up standing in the ridiculously long lines while we shopped, and we kept calling her cell to trace each other so we could regroup. It all made her grumpy and sleepy-- so much the party pooper, that after the first store she spent the rest of the morning sandwiched in the backseat of my car, snoozing.

2. It's not just "crazy ladies" up and at 'em. I saw many a male shopping, and they looked as giddy as any crazy lady.

3. Us sisters literally rolled out of bed, threw some clothes on and zombied our way into my car, fully expecting to see fellow crazies looking equally as groggy as we did. Um, not so much. Most everyone looked all showered and done up! I was shocked and prayed not to run into anyone I knew.

4. We didn't get any earth-shattering deals because we didn't go to places where you could get trampled-to-death or shot down--did you hear about those two incidents at Wal-mart and Toys R Us? My gosh! I couldn't believe it. No wonder it's called Black Friday. I was thinking we'd done it all wrong by not going to Wal-mart or Circuit City first, but maybe it was a blessing in disguise that we didn't!

5. Finally, early-morning shopping triggers a range of emotions. First, you wake up feeling apprehensive and cycle the words, "it's gonna be worth it, it's gonna be worth it, it's gonna be worth it" through your mind to get you out the door. Second, you pull out of your driveway and feel like you're racing every other car on the road for the stores. Third, you get there and speed walk into your first store to find that there is still plenty of what you came for, which makes you feel relieved and disappointed at the same time. Fourth, you snatch up your deals and then get in line as the reality of how tired and beat you are settles in. And you get grumpy, really grumpy.

6. I guess I learned one more thing: your day is shot. You'll be much too exhausted to do anything else.

All in all, I might do it again next year.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Sisterhood


I suspect I'll be showing you lots of pictures of my beautiful sisters over the holidays. Aunt Lulu and Aunt Emma are visiting for Thanksgiving, which means lots of ice cream, shopping, laughing, chic flicks, late nights, Eskimo kisses, butterfly kisses, squeezes, sister sarcasm, singing, chips and guacamole, and lovin' on the babies. I'm so thankful I get to spend Thanksgiving with them. They rocked as models this afternoon. I can't wait to get my little sister Lissie in the mix when we go home for Christmas--miss you, Liz! And Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!







Monday, November 24, 2008

Grammar Girl

I'm happy to announce that not all grammar books are a tedious read! Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss is actually chuckle-to-yourself funny and enjoyably educational.

We read and discussed it for this month's book club and my grammar ghosts have been haunting me ever since. I've been particularly spooked these last few days because someone said to me (in reference to my blog), "I'm just glad you learned how to spell quesadilla!" And she went on to tell me that I was incorrect by spelling "voila" as w-a-l-a. Oops! While my friend's tips were a healthy yet painful jab to my pride, I'm thankful to have things like that pointed out to me--it makes me a stronger writer and it makes grammar/spelling sticklers happier, and I'm an aspiring stickler myself. So, anyone who reads my blog and cringes when I misspell or mispunctuate, please feel free to speak up. I welcome and appreciate it!

Anyway, I tossed my grammar questions into the pot of punctuation discussion we had stewing at book club the other night and got some good answers, but I still came home uncertain and confused about a few things, and I think I managed to spark some confusion myself. So, I picked my three most nagging grammar questions and went on the hunt for some solid answers that I understand, and thought I'd share my finds with you. I'm hoping I'm not the only one who could use a refresher course in grammarese.

MAG's Grammar Q&A:

Q: I've heard and read that commas and periods always go inside quotation marks, but I so often see punctuation, especially commas, outside of quotation marks. What's up with that? Are there exceptions to that rule? I hate exceptions!

A: According to Media Writer's Handbook by George T. Arnold: Place commas and periods inside closing quotation marks. For example, "This is a moment I'll remember forever," the winner of the Pulitzer Prize said.

Avoid writing sentences like this:

Asked whether she would play in the tennis tournament even though she was injured, the star player said, "absolutely".

Or this:

"She said playing with an injured elbow "doesn't bother me", and she went on to win the match in straight sets.

*This book also said to be aware that those outside the journalism and mass communications fields may not always place periods and commas inside quotation marks--no wonder I've been so confused! Not everyone has had my journalism style of an upbringing. And the book I'm referencing simply said avoid, not "don't you dare ever put commas and periods outside of quotation marks."

Q: This question may sound ambiguous, but I'm confused about the word "too." So often I see sentences like this:

Molly went to the store, too.

Or

I want some ice cream, too.

(Maybe I see so many commas before the word "too" because I'm always writing them!) Is this correct? Should there be a comma in front of the word "too"? Mom???)

A: I searched and searched for an answer and found that I'm not the only one confused by this--it seems to be a matter of style and whether you want your reader to pause or not. I'll link you to what the Chicago Manual of Style Online has to say about this. So, I think I've been using commas before the word "too" a little too feverishly. It wouldn't be wrong to do so, but it isn't necessary unless you want the reader to pause for emphasis. Here's another helpful link: The Grammar Exchange.

I think I'll be omitting my commas before "too" from here on out! My bad.

Q: Back in college, I can remember getting emails from student editors that would say, "Hey comma Marie comma," or "Hi comma Marie comma." Are those commas after "hey" and "hi" really necessary? Is there a rule about it? You wouldn't write "Dear comma John comma," right? Help! I've always assumed those editors were right, but maybe they've led me astray.

A: I couldn't find an answer, so do any of you know??

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Extra Lovin'

I'm sure I'm in poor form, how I'm carrying Liam in this baby carrier, but he's huge! It's hard to get him all propped up properly, but anyway. This baby carrier has been such a lifesaver the last few days because Magson has wanted nothing to do with sitting on the floor and everything to do with me carrying him. This baby carrier has helped me dodge a few scream sessions, thank goodness. Plus it forces him to snuggle up to me--he's normally much too wiggly for kissy/huggy business. With the carrier, he's strapped to me just right for some extra lovin'.

I was really wanting one of these when he was a newborn, but I just didn't want to fork over the cash to buy one that I liked. I pounced on the opportunity to learn how to make them from my friend Janna. (Thanks, Janna!) I'd love to share instructions, but I'm clueless as to how to scan an oversized pattern into my computer. If anyone knows how to do that, I'd love to share this easy pattern with you.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Window has Many Views...






As I delve into photography and the all-consuming editing process, I'm going through pictures and finding little treasures, and fast realizing that a window has many views, thanks to cropping and zooming and texturizing--more fun! Thought I'd share some with you, and then also, I thought I'd jot down Maggie's bedtime prayer tonight--her window to heaven is so yummy!

Maggie (speed-talking):
Dear Heavenly Father,
I love Daddy.
I love Mommy.
I love Magson.
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Me, prompting her to be more thoughtful and to slow down: Well, are you thankful for anything?

Maggie, much slower and deliberately:
Dear Heavenly Father,
I'm thankful for chocolate milk...
I'm thankful for chocolate pizza...
I'm thankful for chocolate quesadillas...
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Me: Amen!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Dream Team




Aren't these guys beautiful? They were a dream to capture! I couldn't believe how many pictures I had of that doll of a baby looking right at the camera...lucky me! PS. This is my cute friend Jill that I keep copying...doesn't she look like a movie star? I think so, and I want her hair, too. :)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Oh Me, Oh My!









The nervousness I felt this morning before my shoot of my gorgeous (look at her hair!) friend Melissa and her adorable kiddies was similar to the heart-racing adrenaline rush that I used to get before gymnastics meets as a kid--love and hate that feeling because it means I'm either going to be on a photo high because it went well or depressed for a week because it didn't.

But wala! I think it went great, and every time I see some of these pictures my heart starts racing again. You guys, I can't even tell how much fun this is for me. It's so stinkin' fun that I'm tempted to neglect more important things in my life--which would be bad. So. That said, I'm off to snuggle up with my hubby and get far away from the pull of this computer. I have a headache and my eyes are straining to see the screen. But still. Oh me, oh my, I can't wait to get out and take more pictures!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Sleepyhead

I peeked in on Maggie napping this afternoon and this is what I found. This is not an uncommon sight--her dreaming beneath a book. It always makes me smile to see her fall asleep like this, but today it made me smile and pout--smile for obvious reasons and pout from jealousy. I'm off to find the perfect lullaby of a book to hush me to sleep...good night!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Remember an Afternoon...

I'm sad to say that Magnet's grandpa died suddenly last week from a heart attack. While I'm just the granddaughter-in-law, I loved him and will miss that sweet, kinda shy smile he always gave away.

And when my kids, especially baby Magson--who was named after Magnet, who was named after Magnet's dad, who was named after Magnet's grandpa (who just passed)-- someday ask me to tell them what their great grandpa was like, I'll likely remember an afternoon last October, and tell them about the time their great grandpa came over to fix our broken dryer.

We'd just moved into our house and had furnished the laundry closet with used appliances. Magnet hooked everything up and I tossed a wet load in. The clothes went for a whirl but took hours to dry. Our "new" dryer was kaput.

Grandpa caught word and came over to try to fix it--he was an electrician by profession. While he worked away, Grandma read a stack of books to Maggie as I relaxed on the couch and felt my unborn Magson kick me from the inside. We'd call up to him now and then when it got really quiet. About an hour later he finally came downstairs to say that he needed some more tools. They left, but before long Grandpa returned with his big tool box.

He ended up taking apart the dryer, but couldn't put it back together again because one of the screws fell down inside the dryer. I think it just about killed him inside that he wasn't able to fix the dryer, for one thing, and also that he couldn't reassemble the "mess" he'd made due to losing the screw. I told him not to worry about it--the dryer was likely going to the dump anyway, but he insisted that he'd be back a third time to clean up and put things back together.

He was back again the next day. Again and again, he went up and down that flight of stairs, which was not easy for him in his old age. He had to stop and rest; he had to take breathers now and then. At last, he smacked the dryer out of frustration and finally told me we probably just ought to get a new dryer. I smiled and knew right then that I'd won a memory, my favorite of Grandpa.

Maybe you wonder why I tell this story...

It's because that afternoon, without words, Grandpa clearly told me that he loved us. He so wanted to be able to fix that darn* (perhaps he used a different word?) dryer for us. He also worked extremely hard, and it became apparent to me, as he so diligently worked on our dryer, that his work ethic has passed on to his children and his children's children and hopefully to my children!

This story has also stuck with me because it taught me that while saying the words, "I love you" is sweet on the ears, it's sweeter on the soul to be shown that someone loves you.

I can't wait to cuddle Maggie and Magson up to me one day and travel my memory back to an afternoon in October of 2007. We'll press pause on that afternoon, and I'll tell them that their great grandpa knew the value of hard work--that that's where their Grandpa Magnet and Daddy Magnet learned it, and I'll tell them that great grandpa knew that showing someone you love them means more than the eight letters in the phrase, "I love you."

We'll miss you, Grandpa!

This is a picture of Magnet's family, right before we went to the grave site this afternoon.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Meet the MAGS

(Post edit: AJ (Will's Aunt Julie) suggested Magson instead of Magster, and I love that! So, the babe will be Magson!)

I'm no longer private in the blogging world, and I think I'm OK with that, but to be more protective of my little family, I've decided to go code. You've probably figured out that M.A.G. is my initials, so that's me--Mag. And from here on out I'll refer to my handsome husband as Magnet, my darling three-year-old daughter as Maggie (which means Pearl--aw), and my big bundle of a baby boy as Magster.

Funny story: I came across the word "magnum" yesterday when I was trying to think up a name for my baby boy. The off-hand, random definition I saw said magnum meant "big." I thought that was the perfect code name for my off-the-charts chunker. But then when I went to dictionary.com to look up the definition again tonight, all the definitions revolved around big bottles of wine and cartridges containing explosives, so I decided to scratch Magnum and call him Magster, instead. But I like the ring of Magnum much better than Magster. I'm so disappointed! So, Magster's code name is very well subject to change and I welcome suggestions!

To wrap up the introductions, I thought it would be fun to quote something we've each said a lot lately:

Mag: "Gentle!!!"

I say this constantly to both Maggie and Magster. They seem to want to smother each other in a tug-of-war sort of love. Magster does a lot of hair-pulling and Maggie pushes him around like he's one of her plastic dolls.

Magnet: "...Sweetie."

Lately, Magnet uses the word "sweetie" more than any other word. He ends almost every sentence said to Maggie with "Sweetie." For example, "Go wash your hands, Sweetie" or "Did you flush the toilet, Sweetie?" (What a sweetie. :))

Maggie (speaking to me): "You love daddy and I love 'Magster'."

And one more, because she's just so quotable. This is actually something she started singing today, to the tune of Frere Jacques:

"Sarah Palin, Sarah Palin, I love you. I love you. You are so swee-eet. You are so swee-eet. Yes, it's true. Yes, it's true."

I was very much speechless when I heard her singing that. I like Sarah Palin and all, and I guess I bring her up in conversation from time to time, but hello? I didn't think I talked enough about her to warrant lyrics and a tune from a three-year-old! Lucky for Palin, there are some kind words spoken of her around here, much to the media's dissatisfaction, I'm sure.

Magster: "pfffffffffffffffffffffff, pfffffffffffffffff, pffffffffffffffffff" That's my attempt at quoting what his spitting sounds like. Insert some bubbles and I think I've done the job.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Writing

I love to write, although I'm sad to say, I don't practice enough. But from time to time on this blog, I post some of the essays/lyrics/poems/stories I've been working on.

Below is my most recent project--some song lyrics I wrote about my three kids. The music is written and sung by my fabulous little sister, Lissie.

You can listen to her sing Pixie Dust HERE and my lyrics are below:

Pixie Dust

I stand back and sigh at the torrent of toys
That keep cluttering our living room floor,
Scoot it aside, plop down in the middle of the mess.
My kids' make believe-play is the background noise.

I flip through the pages of a magazine,
Inside its cover, I see picture perfect things--
Everything put together and pretty.
I imagine myself in one of those scenes.

But he says: “I wanna hold you” as his arms reach up to me
She says my baby girl “is the cutest piece of pixie dust in the whole world”
And I say “I wanna story book my babies' childhoods,
So that someday, it'll all come back to me”

Legs crossed, chin in hand, I look over at them,
I smile as she mimics me on her fancy phone,
He claps a hand to his ear and answers big sis,
Both unconscious of their flawless beauty.

My baby's dimpled hands crawl to me,
I lift her high, see her bright eyes so happy,
She squeals with laughter as I gobble her chin,
And my life lights up with love, pure love.

Cuz he says: “I wanna hold you” as his arms reach up to me,
She says my baby girl “is the cutest piece of pixie dust in the whole world”
And I say “I wanna storybook my babies' childhoods,
So that someday, it'll all come back to me.”

Fingerprints on the walls,
Crumbs all over the floor,
Laundry pile so tall,
I think I might fall over.
Way too often am I,
Overwhelmed by this life,
Yes, their scribbles have made it
Into these pages.

But oh so soon, I'll ache for little hands,
I'll miss reading bedtime stories and watching them sleep,
I'll miss the patter of their little steps,
Or the feeling of them tugging on my jeans.

Love how he says: “I wanna hold you” as his arms reach up to me,
She says my baby girl “is the cutest piece of pixie dust in the whole world”
And I say “I wanna storybook my babies' childhoods,
So that someday, it'll all come back to me.”

I want it all to come back to me.

And I'll secretly stash
Some of their pixie dust
And I'll fly myself back,
To when I loved everything.

And if you want to see her sing it on YouTube, head on over!


And the Winner Is...


*CRYSTAL* Congrats, girl! Email me your address and I'll get them in the mail asap. I hope your nieces love them. I can't believe how much fun this was for me to do. I seriously got so nervous drawing the names. I think I'm taking this all much too seriously!

And for the rest of you that would like to make them, here's how: (It's super easy!)

Materials Needed:

  • felt (my friend Jill uses textured felt, and it looks really great)
  • embroidery thread
  • needle
  • button
  • clips from a craft store (not the alligator clips, but the snappy ones)
  • a coordinating material (optional)
  • flower pattern (I just searched google images until I found one I liked, and then traced it from my computer onto some computer paper and cut it out.)

Instructions:

  • Fold felt in half and then pin flower pattern to felt and cut out two flowers.
  • Trace a circle onto single piece of felt or coordinating fabric and then cut it out. (I used the bottom of a small spool of thread to trace my circle.)
  • You'll probably want to half the string on the embroidery thread so it's not quite so thick and then stitch the circle of fabric or coordinating material onto the middle of the felt flower.

  • Put button on the middle of circle and attach it to the circle and flower.
  • Take the second felt flower (the bottom) and use the holes on the clip to sew it to the felt.
  • Next you attach the top flower and bottom flower using a blanket stitch.
  • And voila! You're done. :)

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