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Saturday, March 31, 2012


Renee Graef painted some beautiful pictures in conjunction with Rogers and Hammerstein's classic song, "My Favorite Things." They were then compiled into a sweet little children's book, with the song's sheet music included in the back.  Graef's illustrations are absolutely lovely, and the book is one of Lilly's most cherished.

Before bedtime (but after Lil's face has been scrubbed clean and sparkling, and her teeth have been brushed, and her pajamas have been put on) she climbs up onto my bed with the book tucked under her arm.  She does not ask me to read it.

She asks me to sing it!

Bless her little five-year-old heart, she is too young to know that her mama cannot carry a tune in a bucket.  When I try to hit the low notes, I sound like a deranged, croaking frog.  When I try to hit the high notes, I sound like a hyper-active, over-caffeinated chipmunk.  I'm always off key.  Ask anyone who knows me well and they will confirm it:  Mama Leisha cannot sing!  No siree!

When the book/song is over, Ms. Lilly and I talk about our favorite things.  Her list usually includes fruit snacks and princess dolls, while mine changes from week to week.  Here are some of my favorite things, as of late (and no, cream colored ponies didn't make the cut):

1.) L'Oreal nail polish, in Tangerine Crush!  Very bright and pretty!

2.) Nerds Bumpy Jelly Beans.  Totally weird, but surprisingly tasty.

3.) This picture of Mr. Pitt.  Hello!  Would you just stop and look at that man?!  Oh.  My.  Oh.  My.

4.) These leopard print skinny jeans from Target...because they are wild and crazy and sassy and fun!  (Here kitty, kitty...)

5.) The song, "Free," by Graffiti6.  I may dance to it in my kitchen while making PB&J for my tots.  And you bet your sweet bippy I sing along...  Off key, of course!

Hope your weekend is filled with your favorite things, my friends!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Super Heroes

Question:  What do you get when your local (or is it "loco?") Mickey D's hands out super hero masks in their Happy Meals?

Answer:  Giggles and french fries, cheese burgers and a photo shoot, and oodles of silly, crazy, hilarious, slap-happy fun around the dinner table. 

The Brady Bunch?  Nope.  The Green McLanterns!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Where is Heaven?

Lately, my brown-eyed babe has been asking me the really big questions.  Like:

What happens to you when you die?  (Oh man!)


If a baby is inside a mommy's belly, how does it get out?  (YIKES!)


How big is outer space?  (Reeeeaaallly big!)

A couple of days ago, her inquiring mind wanted to know all about heaven.  What does it look like?  How do we get there?  Who lives there?  We were sitting together at the kitchen table; I was writing a "To Do" list, she was having a tea party with two of her dolls.  She gobbled up a package of Tinkerbell fruit snacks, looked me square in the eye, and asked, "Where is heaven?"


I cleared my throat and said, "Lil...I don't know."  She was quiet for a moment, and I could tell by the sour expression on her pixie-like face that she was not impressed.  Not to be thwarted by her discontent, I tried again:

"Well...When you're with the ones you love, it's right where you are."

She scowled at me and said, "No, really...where is it?"

AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!  (No, really...what was wrong with my answer?!)

Being the righteous (as in, rad AND churchy) babe that I am, I believe in heaven.  Absolutely.  I believe in a spirit life that infinitely extends--like a prairie's horizon line--beyond this mortal one.  I believe in angels among us, who work small (and sometimes large) miracles on our behalf.  And I believe that heaven is closer to us than we think.

Lilly asked me if we'll "find heaven" when we die.  I told her we can find a little bit of heaven now--in the beauty that surrounds us, and in small and seemingly ordinary things that make up daily, fragile, wonderful life.  A purple sunset.  A cold Diet Coke.  A small child's laughter.  The first warm breezes of summer.  The seconds after a baby is born.  A fond embrace from a friend.  A bag of potato chips.  A yellow daffodil.  A kiss from a lover.  A heartfelt "I love you."  The smell of a newborn baby's head.  A smile.

And brown eyes.

I can see heaven there.    

Where is your heaven?  

Friday, March 16, 2012

For Laughs

Every other morning, I drive past a construction site on the way to Lilly's preschool.  While in the car, Lilly and I chatter about school, her friends, Meadow (hippie parents?) and Christina, and what's on the agenda for a morning of pre-K learning.  Conversation usually ceases by the time I reach the orange flags; if it hasn't I briefly pause, steal a quick glance, and allow myself a giggle.     

And every other morning, as I drive by I think, "One day, I'm going to take a picture of that."

This past week, that "one day" came!  On the way home from the school I knew, "This is it.  This is the moment."  I had to stop.

There was no where to park that would not get me in trouble with a bearded, pot-bellied man and a bulldozer.  So, being the determined and resourceful gal that I am, I pulled my "pimp mobile" (not really a pimp mobile) into a dead end street and parked outside a baby-pink colored house.  I sprinted across a busy street (which is funny because I DO NOT sprint), and started "hoofing it" in my pretty, taupe ballet flats.  I braved walking beneath a chilly, littered, gloomy overpass, as freeway traffic roared across the concrete above my head.  More importantly, I braved the dirty ol' pigeons lurking and cooing in the rafters of that overpass.  As I walked, I prayed they wouldn't poop on my "Red Berry" hair.

Finally (about a half a block later), I had arrived at my destination.  In front of burly construction workers, several perplexed pedestrians on the sidewalk, oncoming traffic, and dirty, "prone-to-pooping-on-your-head" pigeons, I snapped the following picture...

...of a port-a-potty.

Not just any port-a-potty, my friends, the Honey Bucket.  The.  Honey.  Bucket.  Ha ha!  THE HONEY BUCKET!!  Eew, eew, eew, eew!  Can you believe it?  I've NEVER seen one called The Honey Bucket before.  What a crack up!

Hope your weekend is as sweet as...well, nevermind.
Hap-pee Friday!      

Monday, March 12, 2012

On Being Brave

It's amazing what can happen when you swallow your doubt and fear, take a deep breath, and be brave.

By being brave, beautiful things can happen.

Being brave means "putting yourself out there."  The world is filled with incredible women--living for joy, dreaming of the future, fighting for family, creating beauty.  There's the glorious possibility you'll meet one of these women, when you have the courage to put yourself out there.  Being brave means meeting interesting people and making new, lifelong friends.

Like a pretty Italian "blogga" from PA.
Being brave is about letting people into your heart.  It's about text messages, emails, voice notes, and late night phone conversations with someone you've never met face-to-face, but feel like you've known for a long time.

Being brave is about being open to possibilities and adventures.  It's about boarding airplanes in Philadelphia, and traveling solo.  It's about flying across the country to a state you've never visited, to meet a crazy "mama" who likes to blog.

Being brave means anticipating something great, knowing that blessings are coming.  Being brave means not being afraid to leap and jump and dance (from sheer elation) in the airport.  In front of everyone.

Being brave is about trusting the sincerity and goodness of others, and believing wholeheartedly in compassion.  It's about having a worthwhile goal and making it a reality.  Being brave is about visiting new places, and daring to climb mountains.

It was Raymond Lindquist who said, "Courage is the power to let go of the familiar."

It's amazing what can happen when you swallow your doubt and fear, take a deep breath, and be brave.  Life's beautiful journey becomes the ultimate adventure--infused with joy and light.  The unknown road ahead--once perceived as foreign and foreboding--seems far less scary to travel.

People, places, hours are gifts.  You can find happiness in the ride.   

Be brave and you learn a little bit more about yourself.

And a lot more about love.

 "I'm not funny.  What I am is brave."  --Lucille Ball
 *(Want to read more about Maria's trip to Utah?  About our first meeting?  Visit her charming blog, "Everyday Is A Country Song.")*

Friday, March 9, 2012

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

It's no secret I love getting my hair done!  Send me to a salon (not saloon) for an afternoon, and I'm a pretty happy camper.

Yesterday was a big day for my little McD family.  We paid a visit to Moore Hair Design for "new dos" for me, Cam, and Lil.  A true "Hair Extravaganza!"  Cam got his first "official" hair cut, and now looks like the most adorable, grown up, little man on the block!  OF COURSE I got my hair colored--a yummy redish-purplish color called "Red Berry."  (The name makes me want something cold, sweet, and slushy to drink!)  But I must say, the award for "The Biggest Change" goes to my sass-a-fras, Ms. Lilly.

She climbed up onto the booster seat in the salon chair, and proudly sat down.  My beautiful friend/Hair Goddess/genius-with-scissors, Brooke, said, "Alright, what are we doing with Lilly's hair?"

"It's so long," I said, "it's become a pain to wash and to comb through.  The tangles and snarls hurt Lilly's head and make her cry.  Doing her hair has become a battle I'm losing!  You could cut about seven inches off of it, to make it more manageable."

Brooke combed through it and we stood, side by side, looking at Lilly's tresses.  "Seven inches and it would still be past her shoulders," I said.

Brooke was quiet for a moment while she measured Lilly's hair with her comb.  After a pause, she said, "You know...three more inches and she could donate it to Locks of Love."

Locks of Love is a wonderful, non-profit organization that helps children (under the age of twenty-one) who are suffering from medical hair loss.  The long term loss could be due to cancer treatments or other diagnoses.  (Interestingly, the majority of the children who are helped are living with a medical condition called alopecia areata.)  Hair that is donated is made into hairpieces for these children, especially to those who are financially disadvantaged.  The donated hair must be a minimum of 10 inches in length.

10 inches.

I knelt down beside Lilly's chair and looked up into her pretty face.  I asked her what she thought about having short hair that would barely skim her shoulders.  I asked her what she thought about giving her lovely long locks away;  "To children who are sick," I explained.  In my mind I thought, If she doesn't want to do this, I won't make her do this.  She grinned that sparkly, mischievous grin of hers and said, "I want to cut it."


I admit that first snip, snip, snip about put me into cardiac arrest.  My palms felt a little sweaty.

And then there was no going back.

As the hair came off, Lilly started to wiggle and kick her legs and tap her if she felt lighter.  She did a great job--letting go of all that hair--and I think she loved feeling like a "big girl."  As I stood on the "sidelines" and watched, I found that I couldn't stop giggling about her cute, short cut.  (Could giggling like my young daughter be a side effect of shock?!)

The finished product is adorable.  She's adorable.  I'm so proud of my Lilly Mae, for being good and brave in that "hot seat."  For being open to trying something utterly new.  For being willing to serve in a way her small, five-year-old self could.

I can't wait to tell her more about this experience when she's a bit older.
How she selflessly gave her hair away, to a child who really needed it.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

A Winner, A Winner!

Congratulations to CraftManda from AT Home Ink!
(Isn't she purty?)

She is the WINNER of the $25 GIFT CERTIFICATE to my most beloved Wood Connection!

Thank you so, so very much to all the lovely people who entered.  You have no idea how badly I wish I could give EVERY ONE of you a gift certificate...or at least a Diet Coke.  The sweet employees at the Wood Connection have asked me to post again for them, sometime in the future.  SO, stay tuned...I have a hunch more gift certificates will be coming!  In the meantime, Happy Thursday, friends!

I'm thinking, "I'd rather be crafting...than getting attacked by a...buffalo head???"  Lilly saw this pic and asked, "Why are you so scared of that moose?"

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Thrift Stores, Friends, and...Spanish Mass???!!

Last week, I went to the thrift store with my dear ol' pal, Sunshine.  Periodically, we like to meet up in the mornings for a "Thrift Store Thursday."  This involves digging through stacks of used books, and then purchasing the best ones we find.  We are book worms.  We love books.  And we especially love books that are in "like new" condition that only cost a couple of bucks.

Much to my dismay, Sunny has an "uncanny knack" for picking out the most exceptional books--the true "diamonds in the rough," if you will.  And last week was no exception!  (The twerp.)  Sunshine found a witty and delightful little picture book titled, "Friends Stick Together."  (Yep, you read that right...the book comes with "five cool bandages."  HA!)

 This little "diamond" is filled with humorous, honest, and meaningful sayings about friendship.  Some of my favorites include:  A real friend will let you borrow her nail polish.  Half the fun of pizza is sharing it.  Be patient when she tells you the same story for the fifth time.

I admit, the sweet picture book got me thinking quite a bit about friendship and what it means to me.  How do I define friendship?  Do I value my friends and all their unique gifts?  What does it mean to be a true friend?  What do good friends do?  (Besides go with you to buy secondhand books?!)  Here's what I came up with:

(Note:  Not a complete list!  *wink*)

--A friend is someone who will hop on a plane and fly across the country just to spend a long weekend with you.  Despite being scared to death of not making connecting flights and getting lost in Cincinnati!
--When your sassy daughter asks your friend (who is staying with you), "Can I watch you put on your makeup?," you'll know she's a good friend when she smiles and says, "Of course you can!" 
--Good friends don't even see your zits!  OR...if they do, they lie about it!
--A friend will stand by your side.  Even when you interrupt the spanish session of Catholic mass!  (All because you wanted to see the Cathedral of the Madeline, as tourists, and take some pretty pictures.)  Like a true friend, she'll nervously giggle with you, then slip out the door when everyone kneels to pray.

Mama Leisha and Ms. Maria!
--A friend will wear a smokin' teal dress one day, then give it to you the next day and say, "Keep it!"
--Friends cry at airports when it's time to say good bye.  For now.

Have a happy Tuesday!
Hope it's filled with gratitude for good times with good friends!