Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Recently I went through a tough week or two, mentally. I tried lots of little things to help get me out of my funk and yet it lingered and lingered. I rarely buy things for myself, rather my MO is to fill on-line shopping carts and then close the page. But, I was anticipating a nice paycheck from a tedious freelance gig and so gave myself permission to buy a few little treats.

The first treat I bought was stationary from Linda & Harriett, whose amazing sale I learned about on the Simple Song blog. For about $25 total, I got beautiful letterpress hedgehog note cards (click through to Simple Song and check out them out, top left!), lovely happy birthday note cards, an old calendar that had postcards on the bottom to cut off and an assortment of lovely mismatched pieces.

Receiving this bundle in the mail -- including two pink Linda & Harriett pencils as a bonus gift! -- brought me great joy; helped reinvigorate my New Year's resolution to mail birthday cards; and, brought joy to several lucky April-born card recipients!

Win! Win! Win!

(Sorry that it's a loss for you as the sale is over. Boo!)

I also allowed myself to purchase two long-pinned and long-desired items from the etsy shop YellowHeartArt:

Print from YellowHeartArt

Necklace from YellowHeartArt

These two gems are on their way right now and I can't wait to open the package! The print will go in our basement family room -- our main fort-making area -- and the necklace, of course, will go right around my neck!

Here's to small treats!

P.S. Abel and Lucas released the Praying Mantis babies in different sections of our yard on Monday morning before school. I continued to worry about them that night as the temperatures dropped so low. Hopefully they are okay. I think we'll go on a bug hunt this weekend to see if we can track any of them down!

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Mantis Nymphs

We awoke on Sunday morning to find that our mantises had hatched! Woo hoo! We all agreed immediately they are totally adorable and I have to admit that I became very attached, checking in on them numerous times throughout the day. They were jumping all around, having a blast!

Unfortunately for them, it was pouring down rain all day on Sunday and quite chilly. I was not going to release these precious babies into that terrible weather!

The small paper that came with them said to release them within 1-2 days, so I figured we had time to wait out the rain. But by Sunday night (and again first thing today when I checked on them) they were all still. I don't think they had died as the large majority were still clinging to the sides of our little bug tent. But, I am so nervous that they are dying.

It's still only in the low 40s this morning. But, Abel and Lucas are going to release them before school. I'll tell you, these little mantises have been on my mind all morning! I hope the release goes okay, that they find food and aren't washed away by the rain or frozen by the cold.

Would it be appropriate to note that I have never, ever owned a pet?

Updates to come, friends!

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Sunflower Fort

After we spent our first three years focusing completely on the inside of our house, Abel has spend the last three years completely obsessed with the outside of our house! He's completely re-landscaped the front yard and has done amazing things with the back yard! (Think: stunning stacked stone wall, beautiful laid stone patio and a hilltop retreat!) Although I often get annoyed about the amount of TIME he's outside working and MONEY we've spent on landscaping supplies, we really do have a beautiful and relaxing outdoor retreat.

His latest project is a sunflower fort. Since I'm horrible at remembering before photos, I'm thrilled that I had the foresight to snap these quick pics the other day. The photo above is the footprint of our eventual fort -- Abel planted seeds for giant sunflowers in the square shape, leaving room for a door.

Here's one of the little sprouts:

With some luck, watering and stakes, we should have giant sunflowers later this summer which will give the boys an awesome hideaway fort!

I can't wait!

P.S. This project fits in perfectly with this awesome Etsy print from YellowHeartArt. Making forts is my go-to rainy/snow/boring day project for the kids!

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Even Mantis has those...thingies*

Inspired by Morning Light Mama I purchased this live Praying Mantis egg case from Insect Lore. It arrived last week and we're anxiously awaiting the hatching of 75-200 Praying Mantis larvae!

We'll release them into the back yard, where, if they find enough food to eat, they should happily stay for the summer. They're considered voracious eaters and so I'm hoping they gobble up all the bugs in the back yard--especially the horrible mosquitoes! But mostly, I am really hoping to encounter a 5" mantis in a few months. You may think I'm strange but I think they are incredibly stately and elegant!

*Bonus points if you leave a comment with the movie that's from!

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Friday, April 6, 2012


This was the last time I saw Susan.

We were at Blogalicious and I saw Susan when she was sitting at the American Cancer Society booth. I was so, so happy to see her and gave her a big -- but very gentle -- hug. She was getting ready to make a small speech to introduce the More Birthdays campaign and cupcakes. And she was nervous, which really surprised me. Susan, the strongest woman I know, nervous about speaking about the very thing she has spoken and written about so many times? I remember being surprised.

She told me she wanted some friends to come sit with her for her speech and the cupcakes. I was sitting in the very back with a table of DC Moms and when I saw her come into the large room, guided up to the very front, I got up immediately and joined her. For a little while it was just the two of us at a big table in the very front of the room. She had these very small pieces of lined, torn out notebook paper and was furiously scribbling and crossing out. Scribbling and crossing out.

And then she said to me, Do you think it will be okay if I include some facts?


Do you think they can handle it if I tell them I'm going to die?

If you are strong enough to say it, they had better be strong enough to hear it.

I'm supposed to keep it light.

Susan, say what you need to say. This is a room full of strong women and they can handle it.

I'll never forget the low, huge, stunning moon I encountered as I stepped off the Metro the evening Susan died. I had gotten the e-mail as I was standing on the Metro platform to go home. I cried, sobbed the whole ride. (That's one way to assure yourself an entire seat to yourself during rush hour!) And when I came out, there was the moon. It took my breath away. I know that moon meant a lot of things to a lot of different people. To me, it was God's way of welcoming Susan home. Of letting all of us know that she was safe, at peace and cared for.

And tonight is another full moon. Three full moons since the day she died. I don't know if I'll always be able to recall the exact number of full moons there have been, but I do know that with every full moon to come, for the rest of my life, I will look up and think of Susan.

Susan gave us all so many gifts. And she gave us so many comforts. The moon and the stars have extra meaning for me now. And they provide me extra comfort.

I have been unable to write about Susan this whole time. Unable to write about anything, really.

But I cried and laughed and smiled when my son opened his first-ever brand new minifig (we were lucky enough to get tons of Lego hand-me-downs from my cousins and brother) recently. He was hoping hoping hoping it would NOT be a girl.

Not only was it a girl, it was Susan.

And I knew I had to write.
Dearest Susan, I love you and miss you. I am so, so grateful to have known you and continue to be so grateful for all that I learned and continue to learn from you. I am comforted to know that you are at peace and that you are still loving and caring for your sweet boys and all whom you loved.

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

You Are Welcome

In case you didn't realize it, the ONLY thing standing between the DC region and a March snowstorm (or heck, any snowstorm at all this winter!) was the fact that these boots have been sitting in the shoe tray next to our front door since December. You are welcome!

I thought about putting them away about 100 times this winter but always hesitated out of the certainty that as soon as they were put away it would snow.

I finally put them away last night.

So if we get a freak April snow, you'll know why.

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Simple Easter Mantle

Abel and the boys were gone last night for a quick overnight trip and I was looking forward to getting out our Easter decorations. We don't have much, but do have a few cute things. I was SO bummed when I realized that the Easter box was in our attic and not our basement storage room. Our attic is accessible via an opening in our bedroom closet and not only is it a real hassle to access, it would be nearly impossible for me to do it on my own.

What do to? What to do?

I ended up putting together this sweet and simple mantle decor in about 30 minutes. I love it!

The eggs are the backs of my lovely-but-outdated Moo business cards. I've held onto them because those designs are so beautiful and I knew I'd use them somewhere. I picked out about six of the most springy designs and free-hand cut them into egg shapes. Then I taped them onto some yellow and white baker's twine. (I still have at least 50 cards left -- can't wait for inspiration to strike again!)

Then I filled up two mason jars with colorful jelly beans and a third with some green paper filler.

I'll have to enjoy it while I can -- as soon as the boys are back they'll be clamoring for those jelly beans!!

In case you're curious, the photo on the left is of Abel's maternal grandparents on their wedding day. The one on the right is of the hotel my paternal grandfather owned. I love having two beautiful pieces of family history on display!

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!


Longtime readers already know how much I love the Mexican Easter tradition of cascarones but now I'm letting everyone know over at The DC Moms. I'd love for you to check it out!

One thing I didn't mention in my post is that this year, for the first time ever, we'll actually be home for Easter. We've invited lots of friends to join us at our neighborhood park Sunday afternoon for the cascarones fun! If you're a local friend who will be in town, let me know and I'll give you the details!

We can't wait to introduce this super-fun tradition to some of our friends!

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!