Can One Person Make A Difference?

Can one person make a difference?

Yes, totally, absolutely, yes.

We have the ability, the opportunities, and even the power to make a difference for good in someone’s life. I know this to be true because my grandfather lived it.

Image courtesy of worradmu/freedigitalphotos.net

My Grandpa was not my grandpa by blood, but by love. He was a gentle man with a great big heart for helping people.

As a doctor, he would see patients for little to no money and sometimes would even pay for their taxi fares home.

As a foster father, he graciously took in two teenagers, my mom and her brother, after their parents had passed away to join his own family, which already included five young children.

As a grandfather, he offered genuine smiles and hugs to me each time I saw him. A young man at heart, he was the one who introduced me to pop music and gave me my first cassette tapes (Mariah Carey and Tiffany) which I still hold dear.

As a great grandfather, though frail and bedridden, he whispered in my Grandma’s ear to remind her to give red envelopes to the kids, which caused all of us to smile because it was such an untimely, yet predictable, request that he would make.

He was just one person, but he made all the difference in the world to so many people. Because of him, I knew the love of a grandfather and the warmth of a large extended family.

One person can make a difference! Whether it be offering a smile to a stranger or being a shoulder to lean on for a friend, you can make a difference in someone’s life.

Believe it and live it today. 🙂

Here’s Carrie Underwood’s song, “Change“, about having the courage to believe you can change the world.

Who has made a difference for good in your life?

Monday Mentionables: Hawaiian Memories & Roar

By the time you read this, I will be heading back to the mainland. It will be sad to say goodbye to the fresh ocean air filled with the occasional scent of plumerias and drinking pina coladas by the pool, but life must go on. 🙂 Hubby, the munchkins and I totally enjoyed our time together and are (somewhat) ready to go back to work and school now. Here are a few neat things from our trip to share with you.

There are some cool bugs in Kauai. Check out this Hawaiian version of a ladybug!

 

A random happy face on the road. 🙂
Can’t help but smile when you see this!

 

The chicken that almost came home with us 
(did I mention Chloe is passionate about chickens?!).

 

A sign I saw in a store that will be my next DIY project.
I think I’ll need one of these in each room of the house and maybe the car, too!

And as we head back to reality, I will be humming Katy Perry’s new song, “Roar”. It’s a great song to get you going on this last week of August. It’s so very catchy and empowering. The lyric video is fun, too – you’ll love it if you’re into emoticons.

Happy Monday everyone!

To Nag or Not to Nag

Beautiful view!
As I type this, I am blessed to be sitting by the ocean and witnessing a vow renewal nearby of a couple who has been married for 41 years (yes, I eavesdropped a little). The husband has one of those old fashioned mustaches that curls up into a loop on both ends and seems to love chatting with their minister named Aloha (does this give away where I am? haha). The wife is wearing a long dress the color of the sea and though she talks less, she offers a sweet smile as she poses for pictures with their children and grandchildren. It’s a very nice scene to behold.

Well, now that I’ve told you I’m on vacation, I will let you know that my brain is busy relaxing so I have nothing new to blog about. 🙂 But I will share with you an article that I wrote a few months ago so you can read about my confessions as a (recovering) nagging wife.

And here’s a song by Kolohe Kai called “Butterflies” that is all about loving (and not nagging) your special someone. 

Where have you gone on vacation this summer?

Monday Mentionables: DIYs – Magic Shell, Tops & Hair Clip

There has been a lot of DIY-ing around my house this summer. It’s funny that this is a such a big trend now cause doing things yourself was actually the norm back in the day. I guess it’s true what King Solomon said – there’s really nothing new under the sun. (Case in point, overalls are making a comeback!)
 
Here are 3 things I made last week that most anyone could definitely do, too.
1. DIY Magic Shell. It’s super easy, good for you and very, very yummy. You only need 2 ingredients for this recipe: chocolate and coconut oil (the latter of which is a wonderful and healthy substitute for cooking and baking). With the antioxidants from the (dark) chocolate, the omega-3’s from the coconut oil and the calcium from the ice cream, you’ll want to eat this every day!
The magic is in the coconut oil which hardens below 76 degrees F.

Side note: One of my longtime girlfriends who is a great cook recommended adding a bit of olive oil and salt to vanilla ice cream. It sounds a little strange, but it tastes really good, just like salted caramel! So if you get tired of using the magic chocolate (crazy thought, I know), try this out for a change.

2. DIY Matching Outfits. I love how C is still young enough that she wants to dress like me. I made a halter top from some fabric my sister-in-law gave me and when she saw it, she wanted me to make her one too! This was my first sew-from-scratch project; I based it off the instructions I found here. It’s totally doable for a beginner with a simple sewing machine (mine is a portable one that can only sew a straight line).

C’s (on the right) turned into a dress.

3. DIY Hair Clips. I love the idea of making C’s hair clips instead of buying them; it costs less and allows me to be more creative. I found the instructions for a loopy flower clip made from ribbons and a button. It took me less than 10 minutes to make one!

My mom mentioned recently that I got my craftiness from her mom who used to make all the kids’ clothes (on top of being a doctor, too). I never had the chance to meet my grandma (at least on this side of heaven), so it’s nice to know I have something in common with her. 
 
How does craftiness run in your family? Whether you enjoy art, words, music, science or engineering, there are plenty of ways to express your creativity. So get your thinking caps on and have a creative Monday!

A Funny Thing Called Grief

Image courtesy of Sira Anamwong/freedigitalphotos.net

Grief is a funny thing. It has a way of sneaking up on you when you least expect it and bowls you over with its crushing weight. It remembers too much and with more details than you can bear to swallow. It fades away too slowly even though days, months and years have passed.

Grief taps me on the shoulder each time my eyes glance upon a cranberry colored dress hanging in the closet; it reminds me of happier times during my last pregnancy. Grief grips my heart when I see a black and white ultrasound picture saved on my desktop, which shows the image of two babies in my womb. Grief knocked the breath out of my lungs today when I remembered this was the month, five years ago, when we lost one of our twins.

During these five years, there have been periods of sorrow, anger and guilt. I have gone through all the what-ifs and why’s. I have racked my brain wondering if there was anything I could have done differently. There have been attempts to fix things and then the stark realization that some things just can’t be fixed.

Grief has been present every step of the way. It is a constant companion, one I have never welcomed, but which has become like an old friend. Over time, I have come to understand its purpose better. It does not stay around to haunt me, but to remind me of a previous time and place, of something beautiful and pure. It exists solely because of love.

Because of love, I had been overjoyed to see two little hearts pulsing on the ultrasound monitor when we had only expected to see one. I had dreamed big dreams for both of our babies, my heart expanding with joy once the initial shock wore off. I couldn’t wait to meet and hold them.

Because of love, I researched and bookmarked countless websites about twin pregnancies. I focused on eating for three and getting enough rest. I worried when I found out about the statistics for Vanishing Twin Syndrome, but I also hoped for the best.

Because of love, I went to the following prenatal appointment with a pounding heart. I scanned the monitor for signs of life as feelings of desperation grew in me with each passing second. I wept in my car for an hour after the doctor confirmed my worst fears.

Because of love, I grieved. For not being able to protect my child and prevent the miscarriage. For all the what-could-have-beens. For the day we will need to tell C about her other half.

Over time, grief and normality become intertwined in the day to day course of life. I suppose that’s when they say you have entered the fifth and last stage of grief: acceptance. This has to be my least favorite stage; it is not nearly as idyllic as denial or as empowering as bargaining. Acceptance means looking reality in the eyes and not turning away from its honest stare. To surrender what your heart has been holding onto with every ounce of passion and despair. Not because I love any less, but because love tells me it’s time to start living again.

I miss our baby, someone I have never met, but who is as real to me as the little girl with my oval shaped face and my husband’s spunky personality whom we joyfully welcomed into our family four years ago. Her presence at times reminds me of what we have lost, but more importantly, she constantly reminds me of all that we have been so blessed to have gained.

That is where I am this day, five years later. A little less sad, a little less wistful and a lot more thankful. Surprisingly, I find myself in a better place, one that is tinged with subtle hues of grief, but also coated with vibrant shades of love.

Listen to the beautiful words of this song, “Heaven is the Face“, by Steven Curtis Chapman.

Please share your own experiences with grief. I would be honored and encouraged to hear your story. 

Monday Mentionables: My Favorite Toys

A friend asked me recently for kids’ toys recommendations, so I thought I’d do a post about my favorite ones. Of course there are a million and one toys out there and I haven’t played with them all, so this may be a bit biased. 

1. Board Games. Board games have been a big hit in our house now that both kids are able to participate. It’s pretty cool to be able to play something all together and have it be entertaining for both the kids and grown-ups (it beats playing Matchbox cars any day!). Our favorites include Chutes and Ladders, Uno Moo and Sequence for Kids. Games are a great way to practice taking turns, strategizing, and most importantly, winning and losing graciously.

Here’s a peek at my hand!

2. Legos. You can never, I repeat, never go wrong with legos. There are big ones (called Mega Bloks) for plump baby fingers, Duplo ones for the preschoolers and teeny weeny ones for the older kids. Even adults like them; my sister and brother in law had a huge Star Wars set listed on their wedding registry, which unfortunately did not get bought – maybe we’ll get it for them for their 10th anniversary. 😉

This bag of Mega Bloks kept both kids entertained for 6 years!

3. Recyclables. They say desperate times call for desperate measures; I say creative times call for recycling measures. There is no better way to save money on toys than to make them yourself out of things you find around the house. There are tons of websites with ideas on how to turn toilet paper rolls or egg cartons into works of art.

C loves chicks!

Now if you ever want to buy already made toys, but would like to leave the toy store in a good mood, check out Once Upon A Child. A new location just opened up near us and we have visited them three times in the last week. The great thing about this store is that you can sell them your gently used toys, baby equipment and clothes and get cash back. And you can either take the cash and run (good luck if you brought the kiddies with you) or use it towards something in the store. All their items are clean, not missing any parts and checked for recalls so they are almost like new. Plus, they are marked way down. We got a 355 piece lego set for $12 (Walmart sells it for $23) and it took us close to two hours to finish one design (2 more to go), so we got our money’s worth!

Alrighty, now onto tackling another painting project this week – the upstairs bathroom. I’ve got this tune, “Stop” by the Spice Girls to help me get going today (it’s been playing in my head ever since last night’s Girls’ Night Out which involved microphones and colored lights, haha!).

Happy Monday everyone!

Let The Words Fall Out

I am reposting this piece so I can participate in an online Writing Contest: ‘You Are A Writer’, held by Positive Writer. Thanks for reading!

I was at the dentist’s office recently and I had to fill out the customary forms. I wrote down the usual 411 – name, address and phone number. Then I came to this line:


Occupation _______________________________________________


I considered leaving it empty or putting down “none”, which is what I’ve been doing for the past 6+ years ever since I became a stay at home mom (not that being a SAHM is not real work, don’t get me wrong – it’s just not the kind of job where you would have a work phone number to jot down next to it). But that day, I decided to be different. I chose to fill in the blank. 


Image courtesy of imagerymajestic/freedigitalphotos.net

I put down “Writer”. 

I smiled cautiously when I read the word in my mind. Then I started wondering if I was justified in calling myself one.


Sure, I love to write. Actually, I really, really love to write. The feeling I get from piecing together a story and choosing the right words is almost euphoric. Sometimes my mood is a little too tied into my writing, which is not a good thing when writer’s block occurs. But the rest of the time, I enjoy the process and feel just plain happy and privileged to be able to do it.


Maybe this is what being a writer is all about. Someone who enjoys the craft and tries to do it regularly. Someone who has gotten positive feedback from others on her work, has been published a few times, and has won a writing contest (thanks for letting me bask in the limelight a little here!). Someone who has yet to get paid for her efforts, but is still hopeful it will happen one day. 


Most of all, being a writer means expressing your thoughts, sharing your convictions, relaying some of the lessons that you’ve learned, and making people ponder. Being a writer means being honest and brave enough to say what’s on your mind, patient enough when the results aren’t what you hoped for, and persevering enough to keep doing what you love.


If this is what being a writer is all about, then sign me up. On second thought, it seems that I already signed myself up that day at the dentist’s office. 🙂


This is a new song by Sara Bareilles (love her songwriting!) called “Brave“. I can really relate to the chorus: “Say what you want to say, let the words fall out. Honestly, I want to see you be brave.” Perfect words for a writer!

What words are you holding in that you need to get out?

Heartbreaker

Image courtesy of fotographic1980/freedigitalphotos.net

I’ve been fortunate enough to not have had my heart seriously broken before (aside from a few minor letdowns before anything really panned out). And I’m grateful to have only broken two hearts in my lifetime, and both incidents were more like hairline fractures than breaks. I’ve seen plenty of heartbreak occur though in the lives of people around me and know how tragic it can feel at the time and also how it affects one’s self-image and confidence in the long run.

I realized recently that while I may no longer be involved in breaking hearts in the romantic sense, I have way too many opportunities to do so in the parental sense. More specifically, I have broken my kids’ hearts when I choose to put my need for control and perfection above their good intentions.

I still remember the day my kids offered to help me mop the floor. (By the way, at our house mopping the floor = walking around with baby wipes under our feet.) The kids were having a great time helping out; they laughed as they “skated” around from room to room. Soon after E had finished mopping he walked over to the kitchen where I was and proceeded to help me wipe the counter … with the same baby wipe he had used to mop the floor. My first reaction was to yell, “STOP, don’t use that, it’s dirty!” in a stern, unforgiving voice. Immediately, his happy face crumbled before my eyes and he said he was done helping, and quickly left the room (to likely escape my impending wrath). I knew then that I had completely overreacted. Instead of appreciating his efforts, I had taken his giving little heart and crushed it with my controlling, ungrateful and negative attitude. Sigh! It was a lesson that I had to learn the hard way, but I learned it well.

Just the other day I had the chance to practice what I learned. In a moment of creativity (and possibly insanity), I set out to paint the downstairs bathroom – a job I thought would be simple enough to complete with two helpful kids. All the YouTube videos I watched made painting look straightforward and fast. What I didn’t understand was that those 5 minute videos didn’t show the other 2-3 hours it takes to do the prep work and the actual painting! (Note to self: next time don’t start a painting project right before lunch time hoping to complete it by lunch time.)

I gotta give the kids credit though – they worked hard and had fun while doing it. And I gotta give myself some credit, too. I kept my mouth shut and my controlling attitude in check the whole time (aside from one reminder to not use too much paint at once). It helped that I turned my head so I couldn’t see the paint trails running down the wall and tried not to listen to the sounds of the paintbrush slapping against the wall (instead of gliding over it in long, smooth strokes). It also helped to remind myself to enjoy the time we could spend doing something together and not worry about trying to make it all perfect. Because in the long run, it matters much, much more that my kids know I love them for who they are and not how perfectly they perform.

After we finished painting, E came up to me and gave me a Tootsie Roll from his prized stash of candy he had earned from school. I took his gesture as a sign that I had done a good job that day – not just at painting, but at parenting, too.

Yay for not being a heartbreaker. 🙂

Here’s the perfect song for this post, Elton John and Kiki Dee’s “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart”.

What lessons have you learned from being a heartbreaker or having had your heart broken?

Monday Mentionables: Orange Walls, Paleo Bread & Alex Goot

It’s August! And the storm before the calm…also known as “getting the kids and myself through summer vacation in one piece”. 🙂 Our first week post summer school was pretty good, thanks to the kids being able to play peacefully together – miracles do happen! I did some major cleaning around the house and the kids and I also painted a bathroom. 

Check out today’s mentionables:

1. Orange Walls. It is actually an orange creamsicle color, so it’s both bright and yummy. Despite it being our first time painting, I think it turned out pretty well (just don’t look too closely at the edges, haha). Now whenever it’s rainy and gloomy outside, we just need to take a potty break to “feel” the sunshine again!

The before (which was a yellow with blue mixed in)…

 

and the after! It looks better in person – my phone’s camera doesn’t do it justice. 🙂

2. Paleo Bread. No, I haven’t officially jumped on board the paleo bandwagon, but I do try to make things low carb for hubby’s sake (unfortunately high blood sugar runs in his family). This bread has a pretty good consistency considering it is grain-free and the main ingredient is almond butter. 

Sweetened with honey!

I got the recipe from the blog, Elana’s Pantry, which has an extensive collection of paleo recipes. She also has an amazing story of how she is healing herself from multiple sclerosis with diet and lifestyle changes.

3. Alex Goot. I can’t remember how I found this guy on youtube, but I’m glad I did. He has his own music channel and sings his own songs (which are pretty catchy), as well as covers of songs on the radio. He’s got a nerdy kind of vibe, so he’s definitely not like Justin Bieber, but that’s probably a good thing. 🙂 Check out his song, “Bright Lights“:

Have a wonderful week!