Friday, April 29, 2011

And speaking of style...

Check out my little man, Cam!  Isn't he a McDreamboat?!


There is something about those dark brown eyes and those pouty lips that makes my heart swoon!

Rico suave?

No.  Rico Huggies.

Don Juan?

No.  Don Gerber.

The only "man" I know whose pick-up line is, "Uh-oh.  Uh-oh.  Uh-oh."  I KNOW that's his pick-up line because whenever he drops/throws something, he looks at me and says, "Uh-oh".... and I pick it up!  I'm positive he thinks I'm pretty special too, because whenever I pick up the object he's "uh-oh"-ing about,  he grins at me and says, "Oh wow!"

What a guy!   
My guy.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Style!


I've been thinking a lot about "style" lately.  I suppose that is what happens when you put yourself and your blog "out there," and join Circle of Mom's search for the "Top 25 Moms with Style."  You look at all the talented and lovely mothers you are competing with, and you start offering cookies for votes.  You harass your family via text messages:  "Hey!  Vote for me!"  You email your friends:  "Hey!  Vote for me!"  You contemplate those fine lines starting to develop around your eyes, and wonder, "Am I stylish...or do I just look plain ol' tired?"  (I know you can see those lines, people!)

You take inventory of your closet and consider donating those well-worn jeans you've had for ten years to a local charitable organization.  You wonder about jeggings.  You wonder about your knobby knees and your chicken legs in those jeggings, and figure you'd better stick with the faded, ten-year-old jeans after all.  You try to accessorize more.  

You think about style, and you start to realize a few things...

My beloved and trusty friend, the "Merriam-Webster Dictionary," offers more than one definition for the word, "style."  The first is clearly stated: "the prevalent fashion."  Pretty obvious, right?  But, what if--for a moment (and for the sake of this post)--we put aside the clothes, the shoes, the "trends," and skim a couple of lines down from that definition.  Do you know what we will find in my trusty Webster?  This little gem of a definition of style:  "one whose appearance is distinctive."

I love that!  One whose appearance is distinctive.  Or, one whose look is unique.  Original.  One-of-a-kind.  Novel.  Different. 

By that definition, don't we all have style? 

We're all different.  Not one of us looks exactly like another.  And isn't that wonderful?!  I sincerely believe those distinctions make each of us interesting and special.  We are extraordinarily diverse.  We're individuals.  We are important.  We're exquisitely unique.  We are irreplaceable.  We are worth so much more than we can comprehend, whether we wear jeggings or not.  Sometimes, we get caught up in "fine lines" and trends and noses shaped like butternut squash (yes, mine), that we fail to see how divine we really are.  We forget to stop, reflect, and step outside ourselves for a small moment in an effort to really see ourselves.  We forget to try to see ourselves through God's eyes, as He must see us.

But what happens when we remember?  What happens when we remember to try to see as He does?

We see how beautiful, beautiful, beautiful we truly are!

Now that's style.
 


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Say Cheese!

To the mom who thinks her four-year-old and her one-and-a-half-year-old will sit calmly and quietly on the front steps in their Easter Sunday best for a nice photo opportunity,

It ain't happenin'!

Love,
A Mama who tried and was very unsuccessful


Sure...they mellow out a bit for my man, the "McBaby Whisperer"!  AAHH!!!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Years Are Short


Last week, I took the Cam Man to his pediatrician for his eighteen-month checkup.  Two things happened while we were in the exam room:  1.) I learned that Camster is huge.  He's taller than your average two-year old!  (McHubby has dreams of Cam playing pro ball, starring on an NBA team, and retiring us early!)  And 2.) Cam's doctor slapped me in the face.

Okay, not literally slapped me in the face.  Let me explain.

At the conclusion of the checkup, and after going through the list of immunizations Cam was about to receive, Dr. Super Cool said to me (and I MUST call her that because her skirts are very bohemian, her jewelry is always funky, she sports leopard print frames, and she's reeeeaallly smart):  "You'll want to schedule Camren's two-year old checkup before you leave today.  After that, I'll only need to see him once a year."

What?

I just sat there.

"Wow," I said, "wow."  (Articulate, right?  I mean, that's all I could say.)

Dr. Super Cool smiled and pushed those awesome frames up to the bridge of her nose.  She said, "I know.  Can you believe it?  He's quickly growing up.  I no longer need to see him for well-child checkups every three months.  Your Camren isn't a baby anymore."

See?  See?  Slap in the face!

I have to admit I was a little glum for the remainder of the day.  As I looked at my lovable, chunky boy, I thought, "What happened to my baby?!  What  happened to the baby boy I would rock and rock and rock to sleep at night?  Was he ever an infant?  So small?  So fresh from heaven?"

Time does pass quickly, and babies do grow up fast.

In her book, The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin (mother of two) writes:  "Today I'm pushing Eleanor in a stroller; one day she'll be pushing me in a wheelchair...Each day, each phase of life seems long, but the years pass so quickly; I want to appreciate the present time, the seasons, this time of life...The days are long, but the years are short."

We do have long days as mothers; days filled with laundry, cooking, vacuuming, grocery shopping, driving children to school, mopping, sweeping, kissing boo-boos, picking up toys, arranging play dates, drying tears, chasing toddlers.  It can be monotonous.  It can be hard.  It can be exhausting.

And then, in a blink of an eye, our babies are grown-ups. 

I want to make more of an effort to enjoy every ordinary day; every small and seemingly insignificant moment.  One day I won't have toys to pick up off of the stairs.  I won't have tiny socks to tuck into dresser drawers.  I won't have sticky hands to hold.

The years are short, indeed.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Move Over, Martha!

I love cupcakes!  I cannot stop myself from smiling whenever I see one.  A cupcake is happiness in a baking cup.  Cupcakes are as cheerful as they are yummy.  My heart seems a little lighter, my kids a little less crabby, whenever beautifully frosted cupcakes are nearby.

Last weekend, my little brother Tyler and his babe-alicious "lady love," Danelle, paid our McD clan a visit.  Those lovebirds are a real kick in the pants, and we had oodles of fun.  (I would like to pause here to state the following, since Ty has not been introduced on this blog-o-rama until now:  I am the girl version of Tyler, and he is the boy version of me.  We're kooky and we look a lot alike.  Observe "Exhibit A.")

Exhibit A

 Isn't he darling?  And a real sweetie pie, too!

SO...with Ty and Danelle coming to SLC, I knew I wanted to plan a really spectacular activity!  Ms. Lilly thought having an Easter party would be a "great idea."  (She frequently says that:  "Isn't it a great idea?")  I eagerly agreed!

Our Easter party involved dying eggs, eating pizza, hunting for brightly-colored plastic eggs in my itty bitty backyard, and...

CUPCAKES!!!!!  We decorated cupcakes!

In order to most efficiently decorate cupcakes that will knock your socks off, you need a super sassy, retro, flirty-girl apron.  Pearls are not mandatory, but they do give the ensemble a nice June Cleaver touch.


 Next, you need supplies.  And by "supplies" I mean "candy."  Lots and lots of candy.


 You need willing participants; those who will listen attentively as you give a demonstration of your "mad cupcake skills."  You need apprentices who are committed to learning your craft.  It's "Cupcake University," and you need teachable pupils.


  Behold, Mama Leisha's creations!!  (I.  Am.  A.  Cupcake.  Goddess.)



 "Student projects" that did NOT get a passing grade; or rather, cupcakes that were crafted by decorators who might not have what it takes to "make it."

A golf ball on a tee.  Very creative, but lacking Easter bunny cuteness.  C+
Ahh!!  Satan's vampire bunny cupcake...with chops!  Scary.  F-, James!

How I feel about my brother and my man refusing to make adorable, coconut-faced bunnies, with pink jelly bean noses:


My star pupil, Insanely Photogenic Danelle!  A+  And when I get asked by Ms. Winfrey's producers to host my own domestic diva show--which I will call, "Move Over, Martha," and premiere on OWN--Danelle will be my assistant.


Have I mentioned how much I love cupcakes!?!  Is there anything more fun to decorate, more delightful to eat?  Nope.  A cupcake really is happiness in a baking cup, and spending time with my loved ones is the icing on top.


"Hoppy" Easter!  Be sure to celebrate by eating a cupcake.  Or two.




Like what you see?  Want to recreate these yourself?  Check out these links:
www.allthingscupcake.com (A linkity-link that I adore!)
http://spoonful.com/recipes/easter-bunny-cupcakes
http://spoonful.com/easter/easter-recipes/easter-cakes-desserts

Friday, April 15, 2011

A "Thank You" note

Dear Nice Lady in Target,

I just wanted to thank you for being so incredibly sweet to me in "the happiest place on earth," AKA Target!  Not only did you compliment me on my taste in cardigans (one must always go with fushia), you kindly said to me, "Don't worry.  I'm not going to judge you," when I let my son, Cam, wander around the pharmacy aisles WITHOUT shoes on!

You see, I had to fill a prescription in a hurry.  I dashed in to that glorious store with my little man in tow, bouncing merrily on my hip.  I had every intention of making my trip a quick one, and in my lightening-fast, whirlwind-like speed, I neglected to notice that Cam was my "shoeless wonder."  Unfortunately, I realized this too late--after I had bypassed the red shopping carts at the front of the store, and had decided I wouldn't need one.  Oops.  And I was already in line with you.

I'm sure you noticed how fussy and squirmy that adorable boy was on my hip.  I'm sure you noticed I was failing miserably at trying to juggle a wallet, a set of keys, a chubby baby, and a big (but gorgeous) purse at the same time.  My little man was dying to leap out of my arms, land firmly on the ground, and take off running (or rather, waddling rapidly) through the vitamins.  He wanted to be free of my clutches.  I could see it in his eyes.

"No way," I thought to myself, as I caught Cam in the middle of a botched swan dive, "No way am I putting him down in his WHITE socks.  What will everyone think?  Will they question what kind of mother I am?"

At this point, I could feel my upper lip starting to perspire.  I've learned the joys (insert sarcasm) of "stress sweating" since becoming a mama, and it ain't fun!  Cam--throwing a tantrum in my arms-- was making my transaction with the pharmacist extremely difficult.  But, "Nice Lady in Target," you smiled so warmly at me I felt my heart melt in my chest, like buttah on toast!

In utter frustration and exhaustion, I plopped my little man down and let him wander around in his socks.  I watched his joyful glee, and had to admit he was pretty darling--squealing and babbling--among the shelves stocked with humidifiers.  As I picked up my prescription and turned to leave, I saw you watching Cam toddle around.  I smiled sheepishly at you and said, "Ugh!  That makes me look like a terrible mother; letting him walk around like that, without shoes on!"  Your quiet giggling turned to happy laughter, and you said, "Oh Honey!  Don't worry so much!  We've all been there...and you can wash the socks."

Thank you for your compassion and good nature, "Nice Lady in Target."  I suppose you'll never really know how grateful I am for your kindness.  Or for Tide laundry detergent.

Most sincerely,
Mama Leisha

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

For the Women

"Kindness in giving creates love."
--Lao Tzu 

A couple of nights ago, I found myself in front of the television watching the show, "Secret Millionaire."  I had never watched an episode before, and soon became completely engrossed.

The premise of the show is millionaires go incognito into poverty-stricken communities to live on welfare wages for one week, while volunteering at local charitable organizations.  At the week's end, the wealthy benefactors reveal their true identities, then proceed to donate a minimum of  $100,000 to the charities they've worked with.  They leave their lush and lavish lifestyles to mingle among the citizens of some of America's most beat-down and deprived neighborhoods.  They open their hearts and their checkbooks and give generously to those who have experienced a broad spectrum of heartache and despair.

Ali Brown, ABC's featured millionaire, is a successful business owner and entrepreneur.  A stunning blond with a warm smile, she made her millions by the age of 35.  I watched, riveted, as she walked through hordes of homeless people camped out on the beach, in Venice Beach, California.

I was particularly touched by her $50,000 donation to Harvest Home; a non-profit organization that provides homeless pregnant women with food, clothing, and shelter.  They help homeless woman regain their emotional and financial independence, as well as provide spiritual guidance in a Christ-centered environment.  A large, family home in Venice, can give shelter to nine women and their infants at a time.  It is a remarkable organization, and a safe haven and a blessing to expectant mothers who would otherwise have no where to go, and no one to turn to.

I watched as Ali--with tears streaming down her face--presented her check to director, Jennifer Jenson.  Jennifer, overcome with gratitude, began to cry.  When those sweet, young, new mothers--some cradling precious infants in their arms--were told of Ali's donation, they became emotional as well.  It was incredible watching those women uninhibitedly radiate true appreciation for the kindness that had been bestowed on them.

I sat on my couch and bawled.

For the remainder of the evening, I thought about that episode.  I went to bed thinking about that episode.  As I laid there with my head nestled on my pillow and my comforter tucked under my chin, I contemplated the affect the show had on me.  I realized it wasn't about the money; though the donation was extremely generous.  It wasn't about the various charities; though they are wonderful in their cause for good.  For me, it was simple.  It was about kindness.  Acts of kindness given to complete strangers...AND more specifically, to women.  It was about women uplifting other women.  

As women, we have an extraordinary and divine ability to reach out, nurture, love, support, and encourage those around us.  Women have beautiful hearts, capable of boundless love and goodness.  It is easy--almost effortless--for us to extend a hand, a compliment, or a smile to loved ones and dear friends.  But what about the people we don't know?  Are we kind to the women who are strangers to us?

Upon deeper "pillow time" reflection, I realized I have been the blessed recipient of many acts of kindness; sincere love and amiability shown to me by women I'm not acquainted with.  The young mother who approached me at the California Pizza Kitchen, while I was at dinner with friends.  She told me she liked my hair.  The woman in JoAnn, who offered to get me a shopping cart while we were waiting in a long line to the registers.  She saw that my hands were full with a big purse, two little kids, and an abundance of "crafty stuff."  She wanted to help me, to relieve some of my burden.  The older woman--with the big, curly hair and the fake eyelashes--who always works the morning shift at Wal-Mart.  She mans her checkout stand with an infectious laugh and a smile.  She calls me, "Hon," and speaks sweetly to my children.  She has no idea how that makes my day, nor does she know that Ms. Lilly searches for her when we're ready to pay for our groceries:  "Let's get in her line, Mom.  She's nice AND she's cute."

And these are only a few recent examples.

I might not have money to donate, I might not have volunteer hours to give.  I might not be the director of a non-profit organization.  I might not be a millionaire.  But...I am a woman with capacity for kindness.  I can uplift the women around me by the smallest and simplest of acts.  A smile.  A nice word.  A helping hand.  A listening ear.  A compliment.  With those small and simple acts, we begin to more fully support and take care of each other.

You can't put a price on that.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

"Rat-Patooty...which does NOT sound delicious!"

I recently learned something new.  According to a study, when young men living away from home--either serving missions for their churches, building their careers, or attending college--were asked what they miss the most about home, the majority of them replied, "I miss my mother's cooking." 

Rats! 

I.  AM.  IN.  TROUBLE.

And speaking of rats, (wait...what?) we've been watching A LOT of Ratatouille at our house lately.  It seems to be Ms. Lilly's flick of choice;  that DVD has found a permanent residence in our DVD player.  One particular part in the movie strikes a chord with me: 

Remy the rat and an airy, ghost-like Chef Gusteau (perhaps he appears as an apparition because he's deceased, or is a figment of Remy's imagination) are gazing down at Gusteau's restaurant through a skylight.  They watch the hectic bustle in the kitchen, commenting on the various culinary positions and their responsibilities.

Gusteau (and you should hear Lilly say his name using her best French accent) says to the rat beside him, "What do I always say?  Anyone can cook!"

Remy retorts, "Well, yea...anyone CAN, that doesn't mean that anyone should."

You see where I'm going with this?!

I can cook, but that doesn't mean I should.  I once burned taco soup so badly you couldn't tell the difference between the charred bits and the black beans...until you ate it, of course.  I've made chicken enchiladas that were so nasty and so deplorable my family could not even eat them.  I cried while James grabbed the car keys.  We went to McDonald's.  I had a Happy Meal and tried to be "happy" in spite of my enchilada calamity!

You might be thinking, "Keep it simple.  Use your microwave.  Nuke some stuff you scoop out of a can."  First of all, Chef Boyardee is gross.  Second of all, I tried microwaving green beans one evening, and they started on fire.  No joke.

But enough of dwelling on all the mishaps!  Being the kind of girl that sees the glass of Diet Coke as half full, I'll "accentuate the positive."

Hmm....

I know how to cook a roast.  (Granted, I just learned how to do that about three years ago...but still!)


Yep, documented the "first roast" via digital camera!

I have Cafe Rio programmed into my cell phone if I ever need to place a "to go" order...so I can do it in a snap!  I make a mean peanut butter and jelly sandwich, with the perfect ratio of peanut butter to jelly.  I can pour cereal into a bowl without spilling any on the table.  I can make spaghetti without a hitch, as long as the jar of pasta sauce isn't too difficult to open.

Oh!  And my Snickerdoodle cookies are to die for.  Seriously.  They're like ambrosia, and are so delightfully delicious even Zeus would clamor for one!  (A lil' side story:  I won a blue ribbon at the Cache County Fair for my Snickerdoodle cookies.  It was one of the grandest moments of my life: walking into the 4-H Building, scanning the display tables that were loaded with plates of cookies and brownies, searching for my submission and name card, spotting that ribbon lying beside my cookies--shiny, blue, and beautiful.  I was eight.)

Cam cannot live by roast and cookies alone!!

Or can he?

You know what?  He doesn't have to miss my cooking!  (And honestly, who would?)  When my "little man" is my "big man"--tall, successful and handsome, with hair and his own independent life--I hope he misses other things about home.  Like all the laughter.  The crazy, quirky jokes.  Dancing in the kitchen.  Board games on Sundays.  The traditions.  Holidays and birthdays.  The feeling of love, acceptance, and security.

And me.

I just hope Cam misses me.


Mama Leisha says, "When in doubt, go to Smash Burger!"