Sunday, December 30, 2012

Looking back at 2012

As I sit back and reflect on 2012 one word comes to mind.
We had so many ups and down in 2012 I don't even know where to start...
There were lost friendships, new friendships, friendships that blossomed more than I could have ever imagined.
We said goodbye to our old preschool and hello to a new one.
We now have a 6, 4, and 2 year old.
I had a very very traumatic health scare with my stroke in July.
A new car.
New members added to our families.
Growing this little space of mine in the blogging community and meeting some truly amazing women along the way.
We went through struggles, high times, low times and every in between times.
I learned to accept and allow help in times when we need it-rather than to let my pride get the best of me.
I learned that time with my children is more important than having a clean house.
I learned to not take anything, anyone, or any opportunity for granted because tomorrow is never promised.
I learned the true meaning of giving, even when you don't feel like you have much to give.
I learned more forgiveness that I ever thought possible.
And this year I really truly learned to stand strong and steadfast in my faith.
I look back to this time last year and I was a completely different person than I am today.
I have grown so much spiritually that now my whole day focuses around the Lord.
Most mornings the first things I do rather than get caught up in social media is read my devotional.
The lessons we teach our children are based on His words, and His ways.
We learned to lean on Him in times when we didn't know what to do.
We have become incredibly close to and cherish our church family more than we ever have.
2012 was certainly a year filled with more downs than ups....but oh how those ups were so very sweet after triumphing over those lows!
Goodbye 2012...hello 2013

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Our Christmas

Our Christmas was a good one! I am just so thankful to be here to celebrate with family this year! I wish I could say we enjoyed a nice quiet Christmas Eve and day in our warm house opening presents and enjoying each others company- but that was not the case. Instead we hosted Christmas Eve dinner for all of my husbands family plus our family of 5. Our house was definitely full of love and laughter. There was no shortage of alcohol either which made for some good times as well. Everybody are until we were stuffed and then we opened some presents and said goodbyes to out of town family. The family that did stay kept up our tradition of opening adult gifts to one another at midnight and I'm happy to report I got a new sewing machine! Woohoo!! I can't wait to get my shop up and running again :) Christmas morning went way too quickly as it seems to every year. All 3 boys enjoyed opening their gifts and were truly thankful and content this year for what they received. Then we served breakfast for our guests, cleaned up as much if the wrapping paper and cardboard mess we could and were off to visit my side of the family. We spent te rest of the day opening presents, eating lots of yummy homemade food, and enjoying the company of those we love! Then sadly, the next day I was back to work :( boo no fun! Not to worry though I learned my lesson and have already got vacation days planned for this same week next year haha! How was your Holiday?

Friday, December 21, 2012

I made it!

Well I survived my first week back at the office...barely!
I am sitting here with my glass of wine while the kids watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas, our Christmas tree is lit, and we are totally getting into the Christmas spirit.
Now that it's Friday and we had a 1/2 a work day today which also included an office work party {yay!}, I am able to say that I made it through my first week alive.
However, if you had asked me that say oh Wednesday night my answer would not have been the same!
The same goes for Thursday night.
It's really hard to get back into a flow after being off the past 5 months.
Work days are long.
8 hours long.
And then when said work day is over I have to shuffle home to take care of three kids...
who expect dinner, every.single.night!
Just kidding...well kind of!
It's exhausting!
I already need a maid because my house is in shambles and we're hosting Christmas Eve dinner at our house for ALL of my in-laws....yeah I should probably get on the cleaning train :)
Anywho....even though I was exhausted this week it was a really good transition week for me.
There were only 3.5 work days in my week this week and there will be 3 days next week because of the holidays.
I'm hoping this will help to ease me back into a schedule that won't make my brain completely explode.
How was your week?

Monday, December 17, 2012

My thoughts

As I sit here and type this post my heart is extremely heavy.
In fact extremely simply does not do justice to what my heart is feeling today.
By now we've all heard of the school shooting in CT.
I learned about it Friday afternoon as I passed by a television.
I honestly couldn't bring myself to sit and watch the coverage...and I still can't.
I immediately began praying and still am today.
Praying for the families, the friends, the colleageus, the neighbors, everyone involved in this horrific event.
There aren't enough words right now to console those who this event directly impacted.
And I'm not even sure there ever will be.
For me and my family this really hit home.
As a momma to three little ones this event has really shaken me to my core.
We've got a 1st grader and Pre-K'er in our house these day who both attend public school full time.
I can tell you this as a momma my senses have been on high alert since Friday.
In fact, the momma bear in me came out on Friday as I picked both of our children up early from school just so I could hug them and know they were safe in my presence.
Tears! Oh yes, there were tears!
Tears from me to them, tears for the parents who wouldn't be able to give their innocent, sweet children hugs that night, tears for the siblings who wouldn't be able to play with their brothers and sisters who were called home, tears for unwrapped presents under the Christmas trees, tears for dreams that were never able to be lived out, tears for smiles that won't be seen anymore.
All I can say is that these past few weeks-with Hurriane Sandy and the school shooting in CT-my emotions and our world has really been rocked.
I won't lie, there are days where I have to really fight the urge to say, "What is our world coming to?  Why is all of this happening?"
And then just as quickly as these thoughts run through my mind I am reminded of my faith.
My faith that tell me to lean into our Heavenly Father even when we can't possibly understand the destruction, and the hurt that is happening.
My faith that tells me He will heals all wounds and comfort those who mourn.
My faith that assures me it will all be okay....
of course this won't happen overnight...
it is going to take time to heal,
time to figure out how we can move on from this (if that's even a possibility)
time to figure out how to make our schools as safe as they possibly can be for our little ones
time to remember to make each day count more than the last
time to tell our family, and friends how much each and everyone of them means to us-even if we don't see them or speak to them that often.
My husband and I have had many deep conversations this past weekend about how to approach this subject, where do we go from here, how do we keep our children as safe as possible?
We both settled on the same answer.
Our faith.
Our faith is what makes us strong, and will pull us through this time of heart wrenching grief.
For now I will not subject myself or my children to the harsh tv interviews, the updates on social media, or the gossip amongst my friends.
We will stand strong in our faith.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

5 Months

Well I am 5 months post-stroke...almost to the day.
This week was emotion filled to say the least.
I graduated from occupational therapy on Tuesday and was overcome by more emotion than I had anticipated.
As I walked into my appointment I had tears welling up in my eyes and was really not prepared or  expecting that to happen.
Every.Single.Day.of these past 5 months have been an uphill climb and this past Tuesday was a culmination of sorts for everything.
All of the emotions, the highs the lows, the defeats, the triumphs all came together as I took a step back on that last session and looked at how far I had come.
As I walked into the rehab center I realized that I was signing in for the last time, sitting down and waiting for my name to be called for the last time....this was my last session-forever.
My "Safe Haven" would no longer be there...
they were setting me free.
This process was something that had become second nature to me over these past 5 months...
and the therapists I have been seeing- both physical and occupational-well have become more like friends than therapists.
I have been with them 3 days a week for 2 hours each session.
The majority of my time these past 5 months has been spent at rehab and now I was having to say goodbye.
Goodbye to my friends, my supporters, and my coaches.
It was a happy, heartfelt, and tearful goodbye.
I kept reassuring everyone that they were happy tears :)
For the first time it felt so good to look back on the past 5 months and say, "Wow, look how far I have come.  The hard work that I have put in really is showing. The blood, sweat, and tears was worth it! I really have gotten somewhere."
I know thanks to these professional I am now on the road to recovery, and that none of this would have been possible without them.
Every session I went in there they helped me move an inch forward from where I was the day before.
All of those inches have added up and led me to where I am today.
It was a long, hard road each and every day.
I'm not going to lie there are many things I still struggle with each and every day, and I know that in time I will eventually get back to where I once was...
but I am also able to do things I wasn't able to do 5 months ago and that is amazing!
I will be forever thankful and grateful to each therapist who helped me to get to where I am today, because without their knowledge and confidence it would not have been possible.
I owe who I am today to them.
The hard work and perseverance from all of us was well worth it.
All of the days I came home from my session feeling down, mentally exhausted, or with tears in my eyes were all to benefit me.
Each day I was pushed further than the day before and that was exactly what I needed.
This week has been bittersweet in many ways.
It was my last week of therapy, my last week with my family before I return to the work field, and my last week to just be me.
Next week our family will have a new routine, a new mindset, and a new outlook on life.
Thank you so much to all of those who supported and stuck by our family through this whole process.
It has been a life style change to say the least but we are happy and thankful that we are where we are today.
I will make sure to keep you posted!

Monday, December 10, 2012

25 Days of Giving Week #1

If you read this post you know about my 25 Days of Giving challenge.
First off let me say I was overwhelmed and humbled  by the amount of responses I received.
I love that so many of you want to help others.
So let's get this party started!
Feel free to Link Up, or leave your act of kindness in the comments below!

December 1: Gave the Salvation Army volunteer my hot chocolate
December 2: Loaded up Gumball machines and gave two little boys quarters to ride the ride
December 3: Bought waters for the three ladies working return counter at Walmart
December 4: Wrote an email to a 4 year old boy who has terminal cancer.
December 5: Donated my whole day to my son's Holiday Shop
December 6: Took on an began organizing fundraiser for our local food bank-DONATE HERE!!
December 7: Brought DD coffee and donuts for all the moms and librarians working holiday shop
December 8: Held door open while Holiday shopping for every single person walking in before me
December 9: Let lady with fewer groceries go before me at supermarket

I was really bad at taking photo's this week so I'm afraid I've only got three to show ya!
I'd looooove to see your pics of acts of kindness though!
Here's to week #2 of our 25 Days of giving :)

Sunday, December 9, 2012

A Humbling Week

As I sit here with 3 kids in bed, my glass of pinot noir, my house waiting to be vacuumed, and 6 baskets of laundry waiting to be folded I have one thought...
I am so glad this week is over.
Anybody else with me?
This week was just exhausting-mentally and physically.
Like a glass of wine every night exhausting ;)
Here's a run-down of our activities:
1. Sick Kids
2. I worked the Holiday Shop for 3 full days at our oldest kids school this week and phew! that really did me in :)
3. A visit to my office and a lunch date with some co-workers
4. All presents are wrapped and underneath our tree-yes even with 3 little's roaming past it everyday!
5. Today my check engine light came on in my car which is a guaranteed $300-$400 these days am I right?!
6. Holiday shopping yesterday which was pure chaos, thankfully we were able to leave the kids home!
7. A forgotten Christmas pageant rehearsal yesterday but a wonderful church service this morning and bell choir practice for our oldest.
8. Occupational Therapy
9. Dentist appointment for Kid #1- no cavities :)
10. Grocery shopping
11. Agreeing to  head up another fundraiser to support our local food bank!  To donate click here
12. I began a new tradition for the Christmas season...The 25 days of Giving which you can read about here.  Come join-we'd love to have you!

Yes this week was busy, but it also was a humbling week.
I was able to participate in and make connection in my son's school that I otherwise wouldn't be able to when I return to work full time.
Because of my 25 days of giving I lived this week with my eyes continuously open for how I could be a blessing to others-and that was truly amazing!

Don't forget to come back tomorrow for our very first 25 Day's of giving link up!
I can't wait to read all of your acts of kindness :)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Passing judgement.
Being judged.  
We've all been there.  
I've been on both ends. 
 A thought occurred to me today while walking to my car.
As I was passing a lady who looked very tired, and weary and whose face was showing her age I thought to myself, "I wonder what her story is."
It was then that it occurred to me rather than assuming the answers to all of these question I actually tried to put myself in her shoes.
For the first time in a long time I used my self control to not place judgement.
I wondered where she had been before I saw her...I wondered what was on her mind...I wondered what battles she was fighting.
It was then that it hit me.
The old me would have assigned her a number, and written her off based on appearance alone, but the new me was not going to judge her based on appearance alone.
Why are we so quick to judge?
 When we're young we're taught to never judge a book by its cover. 
We're taught to take the book from the shelf, sit down at a table with it and read the first few pages in order to get a feel for the book.
But what about people? 
 People who are real, who have struggles, feelings, and pain,
People who are facing obstacles every day of their lives.
People whose stories are not so black and white like books. 
Why are we so quick to assign someone a story, pitch it to ourselves and believe it?
How quick we are to place judgement on strangers!
The truth is by simply passing someone in the hallway, driving next to them on the highway, or even working with them we don't know the battles they are fighting.
We don't know their past or what path they are on now.
We haven't walked in their shoes.
John 7:24 says, "Do not judge with appearance, but judge with judgements."
It has been made very clear we are not to do the judging.
It is Him who is in charge of judging so we need to let it go.
Then of course you have the opposite of placing judgement...
being judged.
This too is something I struggle with, but thanks to my faith, I know there is only one person who can judge me and that is Him.
This is a skill I am working on day in and day out and many days I still struggle.
This requires a daily commitment on my part to stay true to my beliefs and really know who I am every minute of every day. 
I need not answer to anyone else, or worry what anyone else may think.
As long as I know I am living according to His ways and making Him happy I am on the right path.
I will no longer be confined by the thoughts Satan plants in my head, but will stand with Him and fight the good fight.
I will be accepting, and open.
I will learn who people are, what they believe in, where they come from, and the road they have traveled.
I will open my heart, my life, and my door to others I may otherwise not have in the past.
Because of all of this I will grow.
I am forcing myself to step out of a place where I was once comfortable, and am no longer comfortable.
I am going to stretch myself to my limits without placeing judegment on others and without fear of being judged.
I know the One I will answer to, and the One who will answer me.

Monday, December 3, 2012

The More the Merrier: For our Food Bank

Well we are at it again!
Remember this collection we did for Thanksgiving to benefit our local Salvation Army?
Well the same restaurant that helped out last time contacted us again to help them with another event.
This time we are helping our Community Food Bank of New Jersey: Southern Branch.

Another need has been laid upon our hears and we are hoping to answer BIG TIME!
Goodfellow's contacted my husband and I this afternoon wanting to know if we would like to help them raise money and drop off a HUGE food donation to our local food bank.
I read the email to my husband and we immediately looked at each other said, "We have to do this."
So without hesitation and after securing a few loose ends we are onto our 2nd fundraiser of the season.
The owners of Goodfellows have amazing, amazing hearts and care so much about this cause that they are willing to match every single penny we receive up to $1,000.00 
So my goal is raise $1,000 on top of that hopefully bringing the total to $2,000.00!!!
Can you imagine how great that would be?
How many families we could bless this Holiday?
It would bring a whole new meaning to "The More the Merrier!"
So tonight I'm sharing this with you.
If you look to the right just below my "followers" section you will see a button that says Donate.
All you have to do is click on there to donate any amount you would like to this cause-no matter how big or small.
There's also a button at the end of this post that will let you donate $5 and it is easy peasy, all you have to do is click on the button!!
Every single penny collected will be going to help those who need a little help this holiday.
I'm inviting you on my adventure with you in hopes that you can find it in your heart to donate, pray, and spread the word because there are A LOT of families out there that could use our help!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

25 Days of Giving Link Up

Yesterday you all read my post about my project to do 25 days of giving
If not feel free to read it now.
 My goal is to have as many people join in my cause to help others ( family, friends, even strangers) by doing a random act of kindness each day.
Today I am writing to tell you all the details about how we can share our good deeds with each other, and come to one central location to read everyone's posts. 
 Each Monday I will post about my random acts of kindness/ good deeds for the week before and you will have the opportunity to write your own post which you will be able to link up to my post. 
Think of it as a Linky Party of Goodness!
 Each one of you who participates will be helping me spread Christmas cheer, love, and kindness all over the country... maybe even the World if we keep spreading the word!!
 Also for those of you on Twitter and Instagram we can all follow along with the hashtag #25daysofgiving. 
There are no rules associated with this Linky Party I just please ask that you link up a post telling about a good deed you did for someone else. 
 I want to inspire you to be intentional for each of the next 25 days. 
 I want you to exhibit more kindheartedness, graciousness, and good will than you ever have in your whole entire lives.
I can tell you firsthand from someone who has stood exactly where you are standing now that some days this may require more courage, heart, grace, and mercy than you think you have. 
 Sometimes you may feel silly and even a bit crazy right before you act upon your good deed but trust me- GO FOR IT! 
The feelings you have right after you follow through with said good deed will blow all those other what if's and insecurities right out of the water, I promise.
You will be so happy and thankful that you followed through and were able to be a blessing to someone else!
Okay get to spreading that goodness and come back to link up next Monday :)

25 Days of Giving

Last night I had to run to the grocerry store to pick up ingredients for dinner.
I'm not going to lie...part of me saw it as an opportunty to hit Starbucks before I went into the grocery store and pick up my favorite holiday drink- a delicious hot chocolate.
I could see myself sipping on and enjoying my hot chocolate as I casually strolled through the supermarket with no children tugging at me, yelling, or tattling on a sibling.
So I pulled into the parking lot I parked between the two stores making the logistics of the trip a little bit easier, and I could already begin to taste the drink in my mouth!
I walked into Starbucks and boy were they crowded! 
I had to wait in line to order and pick up my hot chocolate, about 10 mins altogether.
After I got my hot chocolate I began my walk across the parking lot thinking to myself the whole time how nice and warm my hot chocolate felt in my hands and how it was such a great idea to get one for myself because it kept me a little warm!
As I approached the entrance to the store I heard the familiar ringing of the Salvation Army bell that had been ringing outside of our market the whole week.
I held my hot chocolate between my hands to keep them warm, but I still hadn't taken a sip because I was afraid it was still too hot.
Just then a feeling came across me.
There was an energy between the SA volunteer and myself, an energy that I couldn't ignore.
As much as I was looking forward to sipping on my delicious, creamy Starbucks hot chocolate and as thankful that I was for it keeping me warm while walking across the parking lot that was nothing in comparison to the SA lady who had been standing outside of our store for who knows how long that day.
The same lady had been outside every other day this week too.
She was there when I went in the morning, and was still there when I went in the evening.
As I walked up to that entrance something told me to give her my hot chocolate.
She was much colder than I was, for sure.
So as I approached her I felt something pulling me towards her-I even walked a little bit past her and had to backtrack to her spot.
I went up to her and asked her if she liked hot chocolate...., "Oh of course I do, it's my favorite" was her reply.
I handed her my piping hot chocolate and told her, "Here this is for you, enjoy and Merry Christmas!"
She replied with a thank you and one of the biggest smiles I have ever seen in my entire life.

Now, I had no idea that I was going to be doing this last night.
Not before I pulled into the parking lot, not while ordering my drink, and not even while walking up to the entrance of the store.
I was planning on enjoying that hot chocolate during my child-less super market trip.
I was drooling over the thought of actually enjoying an entire hot drink by myself, but somewhere along the way I felt like I was supposed to give my drink to the lady standing in the cold.
After my good deed last night something stirred inside of me...
Was it ironic that it was December 1st and I did a good deed to make someone else feel better, and there were 24 more days until Christmas?
Or that I sacrificed my own want and desire to better someone else?
Was I supposed to do an act of kindness each day until Christmas?
Yes it was a small, small act of giving back but I am forever grateful that I acted on that feeling!

Here is what I am proposing friends...
In the spirit of Christmas and to celebrate the {reason for the season, ie Him who was the ultimate gift to us}  
instead of doing a countdown to Christmas~ 25 of Christmas~ which consists of watching Holiday TV programs, and all things materialistic ...

I want to do
 ~25 Days of Giving~ which focus's on helping others, and making another person's day just a little bit brighter.

25 days of doing a random act of kindness for a stranger each day, going out of our way to help a friend or a family member, or volunteering our time.
I'm going to do this either way, but I thought to myself how awesome would it be if we could get a group of us together-from the blogging community, OR just friends and family- to spread the word about this event.
Everything is always better with more people right?
And the end result is we will be able to bless MORE people if we get MORE people to join in this event.
However you propose to get in your daily act of kindness will be just fine...
It can be something as simple as buying a hot chocolate for someone working outside in the cold, saying a prayer for someone you pass on the street, or volunteering your time at a homeless shelter.
Whatever has been laid on your heart will do.
There are no right or wrong ways to give back
I would love it if you could join me in this 25 Days of Giving.
So what do you say?
Wanna join me? 
If you want to join me please leave a comment below or email me: treslittlebirds3 {at} gmail {dot}com and we can get this party started!