I don’t hate Santa Claus, I just love St. Nicholas more.

Here’s some thoughts that are swirling in my brain, prompted by a comment on Facebook by my cousin Kathryn who said that she hates when people speak ill of Santa Claus. Instead we should call him St. Nicholas because he is a saint.

I have to agree with Kathryn, but also sheepishly admit that I have been known to bash today’s version of Santa. Why? Oh lots of reasons, the materialism he represents, presents are given based on if you are “good” or “bad”, how Santa seems to dominate the whole Christmas season, the list goes on and on…but..

Santa has one redeeming quality for me: He’s based on the real person of St. Nicholas. Nicholas was a man who loved Jesus dearly. He took Jesus’ words seriously about selling your possessions and giving to the poor. He loved children. His compassion and generosity is definitely something to be encouraged by and celebrate. (You can read more about him here.)

Have we lost touch with jolly old St. Nick? He used to have his own day (December 6th) which was separate from the day for the Christ Child. Now they are celebrated together and I think it has done a disservice to both. I think we’ve morphed St. Nicholas into a disciplinary tool to try to get our kids to obey us. I don’t like it. It’s probably the real reason I don’t like the Elf on the Shelf either.

I hope that you understand my heart here. I don’t actually hate Santa or the Elf. I just love St. Nicholas more.Β Santa and the Elf can’t compete with the real person of St. Nick, and with them we often miss the point. St. Nicholas is a person I can actually get behind and say “This man, while not perfect or mythical, loved Jesus and his love for Jesus caused him to be generous and compassionate. That’s something we should emulate.”


The story of a nurse and a woman in labor. (One year anniversary edition.)

God ordains our steps. We forget this often. But sometimes we get glimpses into why He sets our path in a certain direction.

On July 30th last year I was in a hospital bed waiting to give birth to Baby Claire. A nurse who was about to end her shift checked me in and then handed me over to a labor & deliver nurse who introduced her self as Anne (pronounced “Anna”). Nothing about this morning seemed extraordinarily different than the morning I checked into the hospital to give birth to James, except this time we were in Carbondale in summer time instead of Urbana in winter time.

But as the day progressed, there was just something unusual about this nurse. It wouldn’t be until months later that God would unfold to me why Anne and I had been placed together that day.

Anne spent lots of time with me and answered all my questions in detail and with great patience. However, she left my room at odd times. She told me that the music from my playlist was making her emotional, but somehow I didn’t figure out that it affected her so deeply that she was fighting back tears. I was kind of busy with that whole being-in-labor thing at that point so I didn’t have much brain power to question why.

When it was getting closer to delivery, I felt the overwhelming need to tell Anne that Claire is my rainbow baby. I told her about the child I miscarried and watched her eyes fill up with tears. What a precious gift that this lady who I had just met that morning welled up with tears at the story of my pain and my joy. She went back and added a note to Claire on the card that she and the rest of the delivery team had signed.

Anne told me that it was no accident that we were together that day, God had brought us together for a reason. A few days later I posted a photo of my husband, me, Claire, my doctor and Anne. Someone recognized Anne and tagged her in the photo and we became Facebook friends. She read my blog and then one day left this comment:

“When my daughter, Emily, was 13, I made her an ABC scrapbook (a page for each letter of the alphabet – each for a personality trait – ie A is for actress…) ‘I’ is for interior decorator. The page was about painting her room red and the saying on the page was ‘Just when I needed a little color in my life, you brought the whole rainbow.’ Emily died at age 16, and that saying is on her head stone. So you see, I also have a rainbow child. At her funeral, one of the songs we played was ‘You are My Sunshine.’ When you were in labor, you had a play list with ‘girl’ songs. I loved it, even though I sometimes had to leave your room to hide the tears. Being present when you delivered your rainbow baby was a blessing for me. I am grateful to have been there.”

Thank you, sweet Anne, for being there for me and my rainbow baby. Thank you for sharing that sweet story with me. I never met Emily on earth, but I hope to meet her in heaven some day. I’m so glad God brought you to my bedside nearly a year ago.

Upcoming retro inspired photo shoot

On Tuesday there will be hair styling, makeup applying, high heels wearing (and subsequently tripping and falling) going on by this gal. All because I said to Jenn “Hey, I wanna do a retro photo shoot with you!” At the time I thought it would be a fabulous idea. The inspiration came from this beautiful photo:


Image source

But now that the shoot is just a few days away…boy oh boy am I nervous! That 10 lbs I was supposed to lose? Didn’t happen. Perfect skin? Nuh uh, blemish city. Confidence? Zero. However, I did find a cute retro inspired dress this morning at Target for $20. Not as awesome as the leopard print top above, but I think it will work nicely. My sister and I scored some $8 open toe red high heels at CATO a while back, so hopefully I can stand up in them.

Now I’ve got to give myself a pedicure and dye my hair this afternoon. Wish me luck!

Subway art…or my attempt at desktop publishing with Photoshop.

Hello bloggy world. It’s me again. It seems I’ve been on hiatus. Sorry about that. There are a zillion excuses I could make, but I won’t delve into the chaos that is my life. I’ll just say hello again.

I’ve been working on my picture taking and editing skills, wanting desperately to become a Photoshop star overnight and be able to create all these cool pieces of art without studying or practicing. (I’d also like to eat 5,000 calories a day and not gain weight. Thanks.) But as it turns out, no magic fairy is coming to clean my house and none of my projects will get done without rolling my sleeves up and doing them.

So here we have it, a piece of subway art that I ripped off created just minutes ago. You can find the real tutorial here, so I won’t walk you through it. I added James’ life verse to my design because what God taught us through James is that every good and perfect gift is from above. Thank you God for my sweet James!


Now I have to make one for Claire and decide if I want to frame these or modge podge them to a board. Decisions, decisions…

Hope you are having a wonderful day, friends!

“The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes”

“The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes” by Mark Pett and Gary Rubinstein. Illustrated by Mark Pett.

Found this treasure at the Marion Carnegie library last week. It’s the loveliest story about a wonderful little girl named Beatrice who has her stuff together. She does everything perfectly. In fact, most people in town don’t even know Beatrice’s name–they just call her “the Girl Who Never Makes Mistakes.” As long as she can remember, she’s never made a mistake.

Her little brother, Carl, on the other hand, eats his crayons and draws with his green beans. He dances with his hands and plays the piano with his feet. He has fun! Beatrice’s perfect little life was without error, but it kept her from really living due to the fear of making a mistake.

Until the day of the big talent show (which she has won for the past 3 years in a row)…that’s when everything changes. For the first time in as long as anyone can remember, Beatrice makes a mistake. The music stops, Beatrice doesn’t know what to do–cry? run off the stage? Instead she giggles…and pretty soon the audience roars with laughter too.

That night, Beatrice slept better than she ever had. The next morning she puts a polka dot sock on one foot and a plaid sock on the other, for no reason at all! She and her brother eat an “inside out PB&J sandwich” which is both messy and delicious. She goes ice skating with her friends and falls down a lot, laughing the whole time.

Now people no longer call her the Girl Who Never Makes Mistakes. They just call her Beatrice.

Love. Love. Love this book. πŸ™‚

Awesome photography deal! $125 gift card for $40

I can’t say enough how awesome J Fortune Photography is. You can go back and read more about Jenn here

Treat yourself (or your family or friends) to an incredible photo session with Jenn. TODAY ONLY you can go to The Southern Illinoisian’s Daily Deals website and get a $125 gift card to J Fortune Photography for only $40! Woohoo! What are you waiting for? Go now!

I haven’t dropped off the face of the planet…

…but there have been moments where I’d like to! Over the past couple of months the members of my family have been doing this oh-so-terrible game called “Let’s get sick, then well, then sick, then well…and let’s keep passing it around to each other!” Only me and the dog have managed to avoid the game entirely.

The most recent plague happened over the weekend with James. By the time Monday rolled around, I called the doctor’s office and got us squeezed in at 9:30am. At said doctor’s appointment we discovered that my lethargic lil 3 year old had a 104.8 degree fever. (yikes!) We started oral antibiotics and ibuprofen. On Wednesday, I noticed his outer right ear was caked with a huge amount of wax, and was dripping liquid (and his formally muffled speech suddenly cleared up). A call to the doctor about the burst ear drum and some antibiotic drops for the ear, and now we have a whole drug regimen. Wheee! His ear is still dripping, but at least he seems to feel better.

But we must put all that behind us…today is STAR WARS DAY! Episode I in 3D is out, so we are going to see it. In costume. With light sabers. Our nephew (who has recently joined us in our Star Wars nerdy-ness) is joining us. It should be a good time.

Tomorrow is my Usborne Books Open House. I signed up as a Consultant with this company to score some books for my kiddos and for our local schools & preschools. My love of kids books is still alive and well, and I’m going to bust out some book reviews (Reading Rainbow style) on you, from books we own, library books and Usborne books. Be prepared for awesomeness.


You’re doing a good job, Mama.

This morning I took Claire Bear to what was supposed to be her 6 month well check. Instead it became a sick visit, with a well visit scheduled for next week. After fighting a very crummy virus, Claire has finally made it to the other side–she broke her fever this morning. She’s even acting like her smiley self again. Dr. Ploegman examined Claire, played with her, looked her up and down and let me know that she’s pretty much made it through the virus.

Then he looked me in the eye and said, “She’s very well hydrated, considering what she’s been through. You are doing a great job, Mama. You’ve done a great job nursing her through this.” I choked back tears and wanted to hug that man. Those were the right words for a tired mother’s ears.

If you’re having a bad day (or week, or month, or year) then please allow me to give you a (cyber or real) hug and say: You’re doing a good job, Mama. You are loving on your husband and kids, providing a nurturing environment for them as well as you can. That’s good enough. Hang in there, friends.