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Monday, December 31, 2012

Saying Goodbye To 2012

As 2012 comes to a close, I find myself reflecting on the year and all it offered me.  It was a year of many discoveries.

I discovered the wonder of the show, "The Voice," and weekly cheered for my favorite contestants.  (Marry me, Adam Levine?)  I discovered Trader Joe's and their delicious, chunky guacamole.  And their orange chicken.  And their cookie butter.  I discovered that small children and long hotel stays are a recipe for "monkey-like" behavior!  I discovered Maybelline's Baby Lips and Tarina Tarantino's eyeshadow palettes.  (Oh.  My.  Gosh!)  I discovered the public school system as the parent of a kindergartener, and what it means to "collect Box Tops" for a school.  I discovered the PTA!

I discovered the peaceful serenity of Amish country, and fell in love with the charm of the old farm houses there.  I found a place, in Pennsylvania, where the angel-fingers of heaven touch the earth.

As a girl who comes from a desert state, I discovered the "high-definition green" of the east coast.  I discovered the east's humidity and it's ability to wilt someone like steamed spinach!  (Which is also green!)  I discovered that the "bugs" that reside in the canopy-like trees chirp loudly when the sun goes down.  I discovered I barely noticed the bug sounds, when staying up late to listen to my friend's infectious laughter.

I discovered a bit of myself; who I am and what makes me special.  I discovered I am braver than I realize, nicer than I know, stronger than I remember, and a better mother than I give myself credit for.  I am a good person.  I am a good friend.  I'm capable of giving much and loving greatly.  And like the lyrics from the Peter, Bjorn & John song, Objects of My Affection:  "I laugh more often now.  I cry more often now.  I am more me."

Undoubtedly, 2012 was met with many challenges.  Broken teeth, broken cars, and broken hearts.  No money, no time, no rest.  Our bathroom flooded, resulting in an astronomical mess.  Our cheap-o shingles blew off our roof, resulting in a re-roofing expenditure.  After a year of trying to add "just one more" to my brown-eyed clan, all my pregnancy tests revealed negative.  My unique and unforgettable friend passed away.  My son was diagnosed with a language development delay.  My chronically ill daughter required a tonsillectomy.

It would be easy to focus on the hardships, to let myself sink into the murky waters of discouragement and despair.  But I choose not to do that.  I choose to celebrate the edifying and invaluable experiences I had in 2012.  The discoveries.  I choose to focus on all the high points, the moments that made my heart soar.  The new friends I made, the old ones I kept and cherished.  The support shown to me by those I know; the love offered to me by those I have yet to meet.  The times of laughter and indelible goodness.  The times I joyfully cried to God, "Thank you for my incredible life."

Helen Keller said, "Your success and happiness lies in you.  Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties."  As I bid farewell to 2012--the highs and lows, the blessings, the lessons learned--and greet 2013 with a courageous will and open arms, I will choose to do exactly what the incomparable Helen Keller suggests...

I will resolve to keep happy.

(Happy New Year, my darlings!)

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Observations From A "Sort Of" Surgery Survivor

I am a survivor.  I am a survivor of out patient surgery. be more specific...I am the mother of a survivor of out patient surgery!  My little Lilly Girl had her tonsils and adenoids removed the day after Christmas.  And to say that I was a nervous wreck during the procedure would be an understatement.

I went outside for fresh air.

I considered throwing up in the bucket of ice melt by the door, that the man shoveling the hospital sidewalks had left behind.

I paced in front of the elevators.

I called my mom.

I sat beside James and closed my eyes and tried to meditate and find my calm center...but couldn't manage to stop the shaking in my legs.

I thought the worst part would be when the anesthesiologist--clad in green scrubs and a surgery cap--came to take Lilly away from me.  That was rough, heartbreaking even.  But, in actuality, the worst part was the waiting.  And waiting.

I was overjoyed when we were called to meet with the surgeon afterwards.  I was elated when he took us to Lilly's post-op recovery room.  I was eager to see her as we waited, yet again, for a nurse to bring her to us.  And I was utterly startled by Lilly's condition when that nurse placed her in my arms!

She cried.  She moaned.  She fidgeted and flopped.  She rambled incoherently.  She wailed.  She kept saying the most bizarre things like:  "I don't want that number two in here."  (There was NO number two anywhere!)  And, "I wish that dog would leave."  (There was NO dog anywhere!)  She continually asked, "Is this my new voice?"  Then demanded that her "old voice" be returned to her at once!  She asked if her tonsils were gone at least twenty times, and she couldn't seem to remember where she was.  (Apparently, the probability of someone acting like a "wacky doodle" as they come out of anesthesia is very high!)

When we were finally told we could leave, I helped Lilly out of her hospital gown and into her pajamas.  She watched closely as I put her socks on, then started bawling.

"Ooohh," she weeped, "I just really love you..."

James and I exchanged knowing smiles as we realized our daughter's tender heart (and drug-induced state) was invoking an outpouring of love and affection for us.  We were there for her.  We would take care of her.  Our shared smiles seemed to say, We are terrific parents.

Then, before we could respond with our own sentiments, she finished (and slurred) her sentence:

"I just really love you so much, Tiana."


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Little Irreverent, But Funny!

"Happy ho?"

James was sitting on the couch, watching as I put more ribbon on my Christmas tree.  I just couldn't get the ribbon right--fidgeting with it and moving it from bough to bough.

"What did you say?," I lazily asked, not really paying attention.

"Happy ho," he repeated.

I turned around.  He smiled, slowly.  Slyly.

"What!?," I screeched, with a laugh.  "Why are you calling me that!?"

James laughed--a sound I have come to know and adore, a cross between a clown's yuk-yuk and a snort.  He pointed to the tree and said, "No, look."

My eyes trailed to where his long finger was pointing, eventually landing on Lilly's little homemade ornament.

"OOOHH...," I replied knowingly, as the perpetual light bulb (or rather, strand of Christmas lights) clicked on above my head.  "Lilly made that ornament this afternoon.  She wanted to write a message on it, and asked me how to spell, Happy Holiday...

...Bless her heart, she ran out of room!" 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Name Her "Aleisha!"

Chantel is one of my best friends.  Do you remember her?  I wrote this post about her a while ago.

Anyway, Chantel kills me for a couple of reasons:

1.)  She has three gorgeous girls.  We've been friends through two of her three pregnancies.  Each time she's pregnant, and each time we find out it's a girl, I politely state, "Name her 'Aleisha.'"  She just politely laughs, because she's real sweet like that.  She leaves me no choice but to bring it up again:  "No, seriously.  You should name her 'Aleisha.'"  Still, she laughs.  I mean, come on!  What's wrong with the name, "Aleisha?"  It's a GREAT name.  (Granted, no one spells it right...)  Time passes, Chantel's precious bundles of pink are born, and not one of them goes home from the hospital bearing my name.  It kills me!

2.)  Chantel lives far, far away from me.  In another state.  A state that may actually share borders with mine, but still!  It feels far when you've had a bad day and you just want to call up your girlfriend and say, "Hey, let's run to Nail Trix for pedicures."  (Yep, that's it's real name.  Nail Trix.)  It feels far when you just want a hug!  It feels far when you realize your girls, who are special friends, are growing up without each other.  The fact is, it stinks and I hate it.  I will never forgive her husband for moving her away from me.  Just because he got a good job.  Or whatever.  (I'M KIDDING!  I'M KIDDING!) 

The distance between us most especially kills me around the holidays.  Isn't that the case?  We always miss the loved ones who are away from us this time of year.  Just today, I was addressing a little Christmas package to her.  As I was writing out her address, I realized, oddly, that I didn't have her zip code.  Without thinking, I googled her name.  (I say that because had I been thinking, I would have pulled up  The very first thing to pop up in my search results, was a YouTube video of her dancing with her ridiculously good looking husband.  I gasped in surprise, then clicked on it.

The first time I watched it, I cried.  It made me miss her.

The second and third and fourth time I watched it, I giggled and grinned; thoroughly enjoying myself.  Chantel is so talented.  Her husband is amazing.  They look great together.  And while they're "hip-hoppin'," there's a picture of Jesus in the background!  (That's just a bonus!)

Today, I'm thankful for good friends.  Friends who cherish me despite the miles that separate us.  Friends who have big hearts and beautiful souls.  Friends who desire to see me succeed--who sincerely want good things for me.  I'm thankful for friends who dance to Mr. Grinch and brighten my day while doing it!    

This holiday season, I hope we remember that our true friends--
whether they are near or far,
whether they dance or not--
are some of life's greatest and most precious gifts.

They are ours to treasure.

Monday, December 10, 2012

You'll Shoot Your Eye Out!

Over the weekend, I posted a picture of a gift idea I had on Instagram.  My sweet and talented friend, Adrienne, at Free Time Frolics, posted the following comment:  "So dang cute.  It had better end up on your blog."

Well, I'm not one to disappoint.  Ask and I will deliver!

While shopping in Target, I paid a visit to their dollar spot.  (Oh heavenly choir of angels, I LOVE the dollar spot!)  I found all sorts of hilarious "A Christmas Story" memorabilia in their bins.  The items that most caught my eye were the Ralphie pens.  I thought about tongues getting stuck on flag poles and dogs ruining Christmas dinner.  I knew I had to buy them.

At home, I cut Christmas scrapbook paper into strips and printed "tags" off the computer.  My tags read:  "We hope the holiday season treats you 'write.'"  I stuck the tag to the scrapbook paper with a single piece of washi tape.  (Oh heavenly choir of angels, I LOVE washi tape!)  I punched a hole in the top of my tag, and threaded a thin piece of ribbon through the hole.

I tied some sparkly (because it HAS to be sparkly) ribbon around the pack of pens, then attached my cute (and VERY easy to make) gift tag.  And...ta-da...cutest neighbor/friend gift ever!

Looking for inexpensive and easy gift ideas for teachers, neighbors, or friends?  Hit up the dollar spot at Target and raid their "A Christmas Story" bins!  I found cookie cutters that were shaped like the infamous leg lamp.  How funny is that?!  You could attach a "You 'light up' our lives," or "'Light up' your holidays with love" tag to that.  I also found mini journals/notebooks with Ralphie's mug on the cover.  If you were to purchase the notebooks, the tag could read, "In the 'story' of our lives, you are an important part of the 'plot.'"  OH!  How about this one?  "In the 'story' of our lives, you are an important character."  AAH!  Genius!

Or...if you don't need gift ideas, but just need help coming up with witty and quirky sayings to go with your gifts, I'm your girl.

I've got a bazillion and will work for a cookie!   

Thursday, December 6, 2012

What Is In My Crockpot?

Confession:  I love Paula Deen.

What's not to love?  For starters, her accent is as sweet as Georgia peaches.  When I listen to her talk, I get a hankerin' for gravy and bona fide southern comfort food.  She is that delightful.

She's published fourteen cookbooks, has won an Emmy award, and owns a restaurant.  She is NOT afraid of butter and she knows how "to put her face on."  And don't even get me started on her hair!!  It is Aquanet perfection.  It is a magnificent silver coif that seems to defy Savannah humidity.  I'd love to spend an afternoon with Ms. Deen, talking hair products and pecan pie.

I've tried out several Paula Deen recipes, and I have to tell you they are real winners.  Lately, my FAVORITE recipe to prepare is her crock pot potato soup.  Oh.  My.  Gosh.  It's amazing, y'all!  (Oh, see?  I'm channeling Ms. Deen right now.)  It's been in my crock pot numerous times in the past month.  It's too good not to share!

My crock pot is cherry red, which warms my heart as much as Paula Deen's hair does!

Ingredients, y'all:
1 (30 oz) bag of frozen hash brown potatoes, the square ones--southern style
2 (14oz) cans of chicken broth
1 (10.75 oz) can of cream of chicken soup
1/2 c. chopped onion
1/3 tsp. ground black pepper
1 (8oz) package of cream cheese
Garnish:  minced green onion

Directions, y'all:
*Place frozen potatoes in a slow cooker.
*Pour broth and cream soup over the top of the potatoes.
*Add the onion and the pepper.
*Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours.
*Stir in cream cheese, thoroughly, until well combined and cook for 30 minutes.
(Mama Leisha note:  Here's what I do...I cook my soup for about four to four and a half hours, then add the cream cheese for the remaining half hour the soup is cooking.)
*Garnish with chopped green onion, if desired.

Our favorite thing to add to this soup is bacon!  When the soup is ready to DEVOUR, I garnish it with a sprinkling of chopped green onion and a sprinkling of bacon crumbles.  (You could add a sprinkling of cheddar cheese too.)  This soup is nice with a green salad and a crusty bread.

I made this yesterday.  I wish I had a photo of the finished product...but we ATE IT ALL before I could snap a pic.  So sorry!  You'll have to settle for this one instead:

Stayin' classy in my "no makeup, old hoodie, and...pearls??" look!
 Happy "Potato Soup Eating," my friends!

*Disclaimer:  This recipe is soooo not mine, it's Paula's!  Duh!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

We Might Be Starting A Movement!

Lilly and I were shopping in Joann the other day.  She spotted a bead necklace kit that she wanted to purchase with her allowance.  Upon further inspection, she discovered the kit contained several letter beads.  She asked, "What are the letters for?  To spell my name?"

"I don't know, Lil," I answered.  "Let me see."

She handed me the bead kit.  It only took a quick glance at the package to see what the letters were.  WWJD.

"This is a WWJD necklace, Lilly.  See the picture example?  Those are the only letters you get."

"What does that even mean, Mom?"

"WWJD?  It stands for What Would Jesus Do," I replied.

Lilly looked at me briefly before saying, "Well...that's nice, but what about Larry?  What would Larry do?"

I shared this little experience on my Facebook page yesterday, and oh man, the response has been hilarious!  Friends have laughed right along with me over this experience.  Some have commented, "Who is Larry?  And why should we care about what Larry does?"  While others wrote:  "Seriously, who wouldn't want to know what Larry would do?," and "I love Larry!"

The thing is...I HAVE NO IDEA WHO LARRY IS!!  But that is exactly what makes this whole thing so funny!  It's why I love my quirky kid.  Her wit is brilliant.  She makes me laugh, and she makes others laugh as well.

So...what would Larry do, if he were in my shoes?  Eat a cookie?  Probably.  Write a blog post?  Sure.  Make WWLD key chains to give as Christmas presents?  Most definitely.  Design some t-shirts?  Of course!  Start a WWLD movement?  Heck yes!  Inspire others to ask the question, "What Would Larry Do?"  You betcha!    Combat the forces of evil?  Lead nations?  Change the world one lost soul at a time!?  YES YES YES YESSSSSSS!

But that's a lot of work.
For now, I'll get started on making key chains...

Thursday, November 29, 2012

On Trimming The Tree

Nothing raises my blood pressure like trying to set up my ugly, artificial Christmas tree.

I am not calling my tree ugly because I'm ornery.  No, no.  It really is just...ugly.  It's very old, smells weird, tilts to the left, has uneven and ratty branches, and is a PAIN to set up.  By the time I have fluffed the last branch, I'm "sweating like a sinner in church."

I suppose my contempt for putting up my tree stems from a couple of reasons:

1.) Putting up the tree with spastic children around is equivalent to waging war with chimps.  Why, oh why, do I bother?  The tree comes out of it's box and something strange happens to my kids (and me)...

"Cam, stop whipping the Christmas lights around!  They are NOT a weapon!"
"Lilly, if you dance around the tree like that you'll knock it over!"
"Camren!  If you keep throwing those ornaments they will break!"
"Lilly, stop hitting your brother with the candy canes!"
"Why are you jumping off the couches?"
  "You broke ANOTHER ornament!?!  What did I tell you?!"
2.) I expect perfection to the point of stress, which is dumb, I know.  I want my children to behave beautifully.  I want there to be peace in my home while we celebrate a family tradition.  I want the ornaments to be evenly spaced apart.  I want the tree to stay in an upright position.  I want the big hole on the left side of the tree to disappear.  I WANT THE STINKIN' LIGHTS TO WORK!  Every year, I want it to be just perfect...and naturally, every year it's chaos.

Last night, in the midst of the tree trimming, it dawned on me that it will never be perfect.  Life's not like that.  The reality is that ornaments break, children fight, and old artificial trees smell weird.  Lights will stop working as soon as you put them up, and "holly jolly" crooners on the radio will occasionally annoy you.  It is okay.

Because ultimately, that stuff doesn't matter.  This is what matters:

And this:

I don't need a perfect night, decorating a perfectly ugly tree.
I just need them.      

Sunday, November 25, 2012

At The Nutcracker

If you take your darling six-year-old to a production of "The Nutcracker"--in an effort to expose her to the wonder and the beauty of "the arts"--you may be delighted by her enthusiasm, thrilled by her enjoyment.

You may also be surprised by the number of questions you hear throughout the performance; questions shouted at you to compete with the swell of the live orchestra.  Questions like:

*Why does my seat have a number on it?
*Why are we watching, "The Nutcracker?"  Is it "Nutcracker Day?"
*Can I have something to eat?
*Who are those people and what are they doing?

*Is Clara's uncle a magician?  Is he a bad guy?
*I'm thirsty, can I have a drink?
*Where is the nutcracker taking Clara?  Do they go to candy land so the mice won't kill her?
*Where is that music coming from?  Oh my gosh, why are people playing instruments in that big hole!?!
*Why does the nutcracker have a beard?

*Those snow princesses are pretty, and they're dancing in snow...but is that snow real?
*Where are the prince's pants?  And why is he wearing tights?
*If she's supposed to be the Sugar Plum Fairy, then where are her wings?
*Dewdrop Fairies?!  They're called Dewdrop Fairies?  That's funny because "do" is one of my sight words.

And the crowd favorite:

*Why is that man dancing like a girl?

Seriously guys, being Lilly's mother is a zippy adventure.  She keeps me on my toes, makes me need regular afternoon naps, and drives me to drink my beloved Diet Coke.  She's funny and exhausting...and absolutely wonderful.

Happy Nutcracker Day!  Hope it's crackin'!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Gratitude and...You've Got Mail?

Today, I'm thankful for...

Dear friends, thoughtful text messages, Diet Coke, nice comments, supportive readers, bubble baths, berry lip gloss, pumpkin bagels, modern medicine, good books, antibiotics, clean sheets, hugs and kisses, a washing machine, my children, warm chocolate chip cookies, prayer, creativity, inspiration, kindness, love, God, courage, talents, perseverance, compassion, humor, and laughter. 

Today, I'm thankful for...

Good health, a strong body, toddler giggles, a roof overhead, clothes to wear, SHOES, family, a quiet afternoon, kindred spirits, an income, blue nail polish, a patient husband, the mountains, fluffy clouds, the smell of pine, Mr. Clean Magic Erasers, a working vehicle, loaded pizzas, messy cheeseburgers, sincere smiles, compliments, selfless hearts, pebble ice, clean drinking water, spirituality, living in a free country, knowing who I am, liking who I am, this blog...

And you.

"Happy Thanksgiving back, my darlings!"   

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Hands and Feet Make Turkeys!

Every year, my little family makes turkeys out of brightly colored construction paper.  And every year it makes me a little weird.  As in, sentimental.  Or, weepy.

You see, in order to make these cry-worthy turkeys you need to trace your children's hands.  These will be the turkey's feathers.

Next, you need to trace your children's feet.  The feet will be the turkey's body.  (Glue the feet together at the heel, with the toes pointing out.)

Glue the hands and feet pieces together to resemble turkeys.  Cut orange beaks and red, "nasty things" (aka waddles) out of construction paper.  Glue them on your turkeys.  With a marker, add eyes and legs and feet.

Ta-da!  All finished and adorable!  (And so easy to make, too.)  We display ours on our pantry door.

Every year, the paper hands and the paper feet get bigger.  And every year, as I trace them, I hate it.  My children are getting bigger!  Their turkeys are getting bigger!  It's a reminder to me that they are growing up, that they won't stay little forever.  I guess it makes me a teensy bit sad.

Thank goodness for Thanksgiving dinner this week.  I'm sure the gravy and the stuffing will ease my pain! 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

"Look At Me"

My dearest Camren,

You were busily driving your trucks across the hearth of the stone fireplace.  Back and forth.  Back and forth.  You stopped in the middle of your playing and your varoom-varooming to look for me; I watched you scan the room for my face.  You turned your head, and your brown eyes met mine, and you said...

"Mommy!  Look at me, look at me, look at me!"

I laughed and thought, Oh Camren, if you only knew!  Not only do I look at you, I see you.

I see your large hands--like puppy-dog paws--and the way you love to suck your thumb.  I see your prominent, dark eyelashes and your oddly-shaped big toes, that remind me so much of your dad's.  I see your grin and the light in your face, whenever you share a joke with your sister.  I see you "swim" in the bathtub and play in your cereal.  I see you run through the snow and pick up rocks.  I see you search for muddy puddles.  I see you get excited about a cookie.  (I'm so proud!)  I see you get frustrated when I forget to zip up your coat.  I see you bop and bounce to music in the kitchen.

When I look at you, I see you--the loveable and rowdy boy that you are, and the man I know you can be.  When I look at you, I see your daddy-- and it makes me remember why I love him.   When I look at you, I see a little bit of myself...

I see why I treasure motherhood.

With love always,
your Mama Leisha

Monday, November 12, 2012

You'll Want To Meet Lindsay! (A Guest Post)

Hi friends of Mama Leisha! My name is Lindsay and I blog over at You Are The Roots. I'm a born-and-raised Floridian married to my high school sweetheart. Together we have four spoiled rotten cats and one sweet-as-can-be 16 month old little boy, Ethan. That's him all decked out in his finest Risky Business Tom Cruise attire on Halloween for our family picture -- I swear, he truly does wear pants sometimes!

Being a mother has taught me a lot. I think I have a new "a-ha!" moment every day. You know, like "if you turn your back for a second to grab a ringing phone, the TV remote will end up in the toilet" or "so that's why you should always pack your baby an extra set of clothing!"

I think my greatest realization upon becoming a mother was that you can't plan anything. This was something huge, gigantic, massive for someone like me who has always been a planner, down to the day. Before I had Ethan, you could have asked me for my five year plan and I probably could have recited it all down to the grocery lists. Certain things would just be because I planned them that way, and that expectation didn't lend itself kindly to my tumultuous (but planned -- of course!) pregnancy. It was a wake-up call that day in my doctor's office that my dear, sweet doctor expressed concern for the first time. Preeclampsia wasn't gradual for me, it was a "oh, hey, guess what? You're on bedrest!" surprise that was accompanied by ankles so swollen I literally couldn't walk, not even to the restroom, and the fact I had to see my doctor every other day with my hospital bags in tow, waiting to hear if that day would be my baby's birthday.

When I was 19, my great-grandfather (who was my hero, mind you) was passing away. At his bedside, I promised him that one day I'd have a child named after him. His heart was broken that he'd never live to see my children. He was in and out of a comatose state but told me before he passed that I would have a boy and to not worry, that it'd be okay, and that he would be with me and I would somehow know it. Well, when I was 36 weeks pregnant, it was time to have my baby. As the doctors introduced me to the NICU staff and tried to teach me about the potential problems with breathing my son could have, I cried that it wasn't fair, I didn't plan for it to be this way. And then my son came screaming into this world, his lungs booming -- on my great-grandfather's birthday. Just like he promised, he let me know he was there -- and it was all okay. That day, I threw my need to plan every last detail out the window.

Motherhood is an adventure. Sometimes I don't wash my hair for a few days, sometimes I'm guilty of slipping on the same pair of dirty leggings I've pulled out of the hamper, and maybe that's not the way I planned it when I was pregnant and insisting I'd be the most glamorous new mom this side of town had ever seen. There wouldn't be a day I wouldn't wake up early to put on some fresh make-up, you see. The reality is, sometimes I have stains on my clothing from applesauce that Ethan has flung at me and sometimes the only make-up I wear is diaper cream smudged on my cheek. And the truth is, I couldn't have imagined how glamorous I still feel when my little boy smiles at me and plants a slobbery, toddler kiss on my cheek.

***Thank you so much to Lindsay for guest posting for me today.  She was one of my sponsors last month, and is a really lovely person.  Our email correspondence has been like sunshine in my inbox!  I'm glad to call her my new friend.  Please stop by her fabulous blog and show her some love.  And have a happy Monday!***

Friday, November 9, 2012

"BRAVE" Giveaway...HOORAY!

Are you brave?

Honestly, I've never considered myself a brave person.  Case in point:  I'm deathly afraid of spiders.  (Just typing the word "spiders" is giving me the heebie jeebies!)  I still run up the stairs when I leave a dark basement.  (What is with that?!  It's as if I'm afraid some monstrous thing is going to snatch my ankle at the last minute and drag me back down.)  I'm terrified of the dark.  (McHubby can vouch for that one.  It's why I am always leaving the lights on...which, he hates!)

Despite my fears, I have to recognize the moments of bravery in my life.  I was brave when I encountered a cockroach the size of my head, in China.  I was brave when I moved to a new city--not knowing anyone, or how to get around without getting lost.  I was brave when I gave birth to my babies.  And, I suppose I have to be a little brave everyday, as I face the challenges of motherhood.

In Disney Pixar's beautiful film, Brave, the heroine, Merida, exhibits bravery as she stands up for what she believes in, faces the challenges of complicated relationships, and fights to help and protect her mother.  What's not to love about her strong character?  (I doubt she would run from dark basements!) 

The characters are endearing, the cinematography is lovely, and the Scottish lilts are charming.  The Highland folklore makes for a unique and interesting viewing experience.  (And then there's Merida's wild, fiery red hair, which is pretty awesome!)

If you would like to win the Ultimate Collector's Edition of BRAVE, simply:

1.) Like Mama Leisha on Facebook(If you don't already!)

2.) Follow "The Mama" on GFC.  (Again, if you don't already!)
3.) Leave a comment telling me you've done steps one and two...AND...if you'd like, tell me about a time YOU were brave!
BONUS ENTRY:  I just started tweeting!  What the heck does that even mean?!  HA!  Earn a bonus entry by following my "twits" on Twitter.  (You'll want to; they're funny.)  Click here.

Winner will be notified SUNDAY night, November 11th.  THANK YOU and GOOD LUCK!

"Our fate lives in us.  You only have to be brave enough to see it."  --Merida

***Disclaimer:  I received a copy of this film to review.  All opinions are my own.***   

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Because It's Election Day...

I distinctly remember a time I overheard Lilly playing with her dolls.  She was three-years-old and just discovering the wonders of "pretend play."  I could hear her tiny voice--quiet and sweet--playing the parts of both the mommy doll and the daddy doll:

"Alright baby, it's time for your nap."

"Let's put you in your crib."

I peeked into her room and saw her gingerly lay the plastic, Fisher Price baby doll into her pink cradle.  She was playing with her dollhouse, and had set up all the accompanying furniture.  I watched as she positioned the mommy and daddy dolls around the kitchen table.  I couldn't resist; I had to ask:

"Lilly, what will the mommy and daddy do now that the baby is asleep?"

She paused for only a moment before replying:

"Now they will have peace!"

I can't begin to describe in words how big my smile was when she said that.  Nor could I accurately convey the love and lightness felt in my heart, that such a witty comment invoked.  I remember how I giggled and giggled for days afterward.

Beneath the endearing quality of this experience--and my daughter's brilliant response and charm--lies a substantial idea.  Our homes should be peaceful places.  This inspires a number of questions:

Are our homes safe havens for our children and family members?  Are they our sanctuaries in an otherwise frightening and tumultuous world?  Does peace reside there?  Are we striving to extinguish anger and avoid contention?

Barbara Bush, wife of former president George Bush, spoke to the graduates of Wellesley College.  In her speech she said, "Your success as a family, our success as a society, depends not on what happens in the White House but on what happens inside YOUR house."  What is happening inside your house?  Is peace happening?  Is kindness happening?  Is forgiveness happening?  Is love?

The election is an important cause--it gives rise to action, it is what makes democracy great.  We are blessed to be able to cast our ballots.  But while I'm voting today, I'm going to remember that the most important cause of my lifetime is protecting the home.

The most important cause of my lifetime is my family.


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Mama Leisha's Super Duper Bracelet Tutorial!

I love accessories.

No, really.  I loooove them.  I "L-O-V-E" love them.  I love them like crazy.  I love them like a love song!  I love them like I love Diet Coke.  (WOW!  Huge.)  I ADORE adornment.  Give me some big, dangly earrings and I'm a happy girl.  Give me a bright-colored, chunky necklace, and I'm in heaven.  Give me some animal print bangles and a "blinged out" ring and I'll pretty much worship the ground you walk on until the day I die.

Not only do I love accessories, I love to make them too.  IT'S SO MUCH FUN!  My most favorite accessory to make lately is an embellished cuff bracelet.  These bracelets rock my world with their gorgeousness!  Want to know how I do it?

Step 1--You need a plain, metal cuff.  (Check the jewelry sections at the craft stores.)  You will also need a yard and a half of ribbon.  Hot glue the end of the ribbon to the end of the cuff.

Step 2--Wrap the ribbon around the entire cuff--periodically gluing it down.  Wrap and glue and wrap and glue and wrap and glue!

Step 3--Next, you'll need some fabric scraps for making yo-yos.  If you are unsure of how to make a yo-yo, I HIGHLY recommend the tutorial on this website.  I made six for my bracelet.  Each circle was two inches in diameter.

Step 4--Once your yo-yos are finished, hot glue them onto your cuff bracelet.  Like this:

Step 5--My FAVORITE step!!  Embellishing!  Blinging!  Bedazzling!  You can have oodles of creative fun with this step.  Think of all the embellishments you could use on your bracelet.  Buttons!  Beads!  Grandma's old costume jewelry!  Sequins!  Feathers!  Pearls!  Rhinestones!  So many possibilites.  It's a riot!

Several years ago, I inherited all of my grandma's costume jewelry.  A box full of mismatched clip-on earrings has sat on my dresser for forever...  Until one day, I realized I could break the backs off of them and use them on my bracelets.  A stroke of genius, people!  Look at the pretty end result:

Use a hot glue gun to glue your buttons, beads, jewels, etc. to the top of your yo-yos. have a pretty, unique, eye catching piece of jewelry.

(Here's an Instagram pic of a bracelet I made for a friend, for her birthday.)

Wouldn't these make the most fantastic Christmas gifts for your girlfriends?  You could make them as different as your friends are, and to fit their various personalities.  But then again, why give them away when you can keep them for yourself!?