20 January 2015

Traveling Bags- Touched Up by Mama

We live very near a particular outlet store that I love! The other day I was browsing and stumbled upon a large stock of rolling backpacks with names embroidered on them! The company does embroidery, and I’m guessing since the holidays just passed, they had lots of extra misprints or something, I dunno. But whatever the reason they were there, I scored three bags.(Scored definitely being the appropriate word here… they were only $3.50 each, and regularly they are $50!)

I have a thing about my kids having matching things. Not identical in color, but the same type of the same thing. This applies to water bottles, lunch boxes and the the like. Rolling backpacks for airplanes definitely fits into this category. I mean, wouldn’t it bring anyone else great joy in their heart to see three matching backpacks all lined up at the airport ready to go?

Okay maybe it’s just me.


I’d like to send my apologies to Hayden,




…and Grace.


I’m sorry your bags didn’t work out for you. But we sure plan to enjoy them.

Sidenote: I  found a bag that had my son’s actual name embroidered on it! I freaked out for a second and snatched it up until I realized that I don’t actually want people in airports to know my boy’s name. “Kid safety 101, Suzanne, get your head in the game!” (Then I put it back).

So my next stop, naturally, was Hobby Lobby, to brainstorm up a way to cover those names. I was thinking fabric or iron on patch or something, until my eyes landed on this little gem.


Fashion tidbits… you are MINE! They cost more than a bag itself (even with a 40% off coupon), but whatever!

And then I recalled this item which I already had at home.


Gra’ndma’s Grab Bag’ of buttons is about right… My Mom bought it for us during her recent visit. It’s like she knew or something.

Anyway, after literally about ten minutes of hand stitching we had this:




No more names. And some cute accents instead. How about that adorable little super-boy button. C’mon!!!


Happy thrifty, match-loving Mama!


And happy “We got new bags for the airplane!!!!” kids.


(He was excited, I promise.)


How have I never posted this? These pics are just the cutest.

The first three are before Lil’ A quite got the hang of peekaboo. She’s trying, but she’s missing a key element… actually covering her eyes!




Then she got better. And dare I say cuter?





(Oh woops, she slipped back into old habits in the next one, ha!)


But I do believe she made up for it in enthusiasm!




Ha, another slip up…









She makes my heart burst…

Jammies on the Chair

All three of my kiddos share a bedroom. The littlest one often sleeps longer than the big ones, so that prevents my big kids from being able to put their jammies on their hooks (the system we have) before they go to  school in the morning.

Soooo I usually have H put his jammies on this chair near the door so that it’s easy to put them away later.

And this is what he does…




It seriously cracks me up! He take the time to put the undies and the socks over the tops of the chair, I don’t know why… but it really gets me giggling!

What is That Doing There?

I have a busy girlie. She’s busier than my others. I have here a collection of photos from the past half year or so.

It’s entitled “What is That doing There?!!”

I think you’ll get the point.

1. Half the contents of my parents’ bookshelves on the floor.


2. A snow boot in the baking cupboard.


3. A whisk on my baby’s toes, on the couch.


4. A whisk outside, in the play kitchen.


5. A ball and a play cup and a remote control all in the shoe closet.


6. A boy and his baby sister in the bottom of the pantry, snuggling?


7. A baby in the laundry cart.


8. A baby in the corner of the balcony with a plant!


9. An empty dish soap bottle in the toilet…


10. A pair of little girl undies in the dishwasher.


There you have it. A small portion of the scavenger hunt that I live in daily…

19 January 2015

A Sneaky First

Tonight, we experienced a ‘first’ in our home. After bedtime, Mike went into the kids’ room and found H reading with a flashlight in his bed. A LEGO magazine! Ha!

I kind of like it, secretly (well, not so secretly anymore)… reading after bedtime with a flashlight is some sort of childhood rite-of-passage, isn’t it?

Love my boy.

17 January 2015

In Memory of Dear Miss Sheila

June 30, 1950-December 13, 2014


(taken fall, 2013)



Without our oldest little neighbor

Our hall isn’t quite the same these days.

In my mind she’s sitting in the armchair watching a noisy group of kids

Or standing at the plants with a little friend, taking help and giving praise.


She was part of our daily life

Coming by to hand out candy to my boy and my girl.

Serving, sharing and sometimes complaining in her well-known Sheila way

And knocking everyday just to say ‘hi’ to my littlest one with a head full of curl.


She’d come with an invitation for a walk down to Kairos with N

And for no reason, she came with me to H’s swim lesson at the Y

She’d brush or braid my girls’ hair if she had the chance

Or all dressed up, she’d need help with a clasp on her jewelry, so she’d come by.


No one else could get our kids to sit in chairs and converse like adults,

Baggies of potato chips and cups of tea were such treats for them.

N would go down for a visit and come skipping home awhile later

Feeling so grown-up and so loved, like a special little gem.


In her home of hospitality, she’d carefully prepare meals… food being of great importance.

Specific about tastes and flavors and spices, she gave it all her own delicious flair.

Just a couple months ago she told me of the days she tried to be a nun,

And that she couldn’t do it, in the end, because of the boring menu there!


So often there was a knock with a delicious offering of curry

How I miss that she loved us in that way.

Once though, after I delivered A, she brought me over a for-real Ox-tail

And I’m so sorry Sheila, but I didn’t know what to do with that cuisine on that day.


It wasn’t just in this season that she’s been dear to us, you know,

She and Mike had been neighbors way back at Star Ranch and had a special friendship, I would say.

And so when we were dating, Mike took Sheila to the mall to decide which engagement ring to get me.

I said yes, flew out, got to meet her, and a special friendship it would stay.


Two years later we moved to Africa and it was just emails that came and went.

She’d write to say that she was always be praying for us and our kids as we’d come and go.

Email letters, as you may know, with extra capitals, bold fonts and pretty colors would be sent.

She’d just write to send her love, and it would bless me that she’d take the time to tell us so.


A vibrant occupant of our hallway has different neighbors for now,

Good news for them, sad news for you and me.

Sometimes I feel so angry that she was too stubborn to take care of herself,

So very eager to move on from here and the next life to see.


I think of Katie and I’s miscarried babies, siblings of some of her little favorites…

Imagining they’re children now, and into her home they have happily been drawn.

She’s taught them what a durkimaan is and has made them French fries in her toaster oven,

And it’s allowed her joy from our little hallway kids, to somehow carry on.


We were her home, we are her family.

For now, she’s gone, a new life for her is just at the start.

Sheila Pillay, we love you so very much,

And you’ll remain forever in my heart


08 January 2015

The Golden Rule

As a kid I knew the golden rule very well…

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” (Matt 7:12)

But for kids it’s so often used in the context of don’t do to others what you wouldn’t want them to do to you. Am I right?

As a grown-up (seriously) I’ve learned more of what ‘The Golden Rule’ really says. I like this version from The Message…

Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior:

Ask yourself what you want people to do for you,

then grab the initiative and do it for them.

Add up God’s Law and Prophets and this is what you get.

The real Bible version (and the not the I-need-something-to-say-to-try-to-help-my-child-understand-why-they-shouldn’t-insertbadbehaviorhere-to-their-friends version) is much more positive.  And I love it!

It’s not hard for me to imagine what I wish others would do for me. I have all kinds of thoughts about what I wish other people would do. That’s kind of embarrassing to admit, but I think it’s normal? I mean, cause we’re human and all.

The real Bible version reminds me to take those thoughts, and then turn around and ‘grab the initiative and do it for THEM!’

That’s a most excellent idea. That’s a wonderful way to live. It’s so much more than the common reminder to stop doing mean stuff to people cause we don’t want mean stuff done to us. Take all my ideas and turn them outward. What a ‘simple rule-of-thumb guide for behavior’.

Thank you God!