Tuesday, September 27, 2011

mother*wonder Monday {two} - Getting the Best of Me

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{I did miss mother*wonder Monday getting ready for my guest-post, so 
I hope it is still acceptable on Wednesday!}

I have really been thinking lately about who is getting the best of me.
Yes, I do spend the whole day taking care of my children.
So they are getting the MOST of me, but is it my BEST?

Truth is sometimes it's not.

Sometimes I talk to my family in a way I wouldn't talk to my neighbor.
Sometimes I am distracted when they are talking to me, but if I were talking with a friend I would focus.
Sometimes I put on the smile when I walk out the door, but forget to put it on at home.

Sometimes I know my family will understand, but others may not, so I give them my best.
Thing is, what my six think of me, should be most important.

I say I love my life, and I mean it with all of me,
but is that what I portray..in my home?

Most of the time yes, but sometimes this is exactly what I need to have resonate.

The people in my home, the ones I love most, they need to believe
I care, I listen, I enjoy,
and there is no one in the world I would rather give my BEST to.



Enjoying all the moments of mother*wonder,
{michelle}

...You can find me over at Oopsey Daisy today!!


{If you're visiting from Oopsey Daisy, hello!  Happy you stopped in!  Hope you are inspired and enjoy taking a peek into our wonder*filled life!}

I have been a fan of Alison's clever projects and kid-focused fun for awhile now, so...

I am thrilled to be over at Oopsey Daisy today

sharing a brand-new {sewing machine still on fire!} tutorial with you!

When I saw this on Pinterest, I fell in love, but not with the price tag.
More than $140 dollars, yikes!  I knew I could make something like it, and thought it would be perfect for my niece's upcoming birthday.

gltc.co.uk

So here's my version...

A Bed of Clouds!  

Here is a sneak-peek, head on over to see more of this cute project, including a step-by-step tutorial.
I made this for just under $40.  {We don't do extended family Christmas gifts, so we always spend a bit more on birthdays}.

I am loving how it turned out!  I think the birthday girl will too!  Head on over to

OOPSEY DAISY to see more...!!




Wishing you the sweetest dreams on your new bed of clouds!!

{michelle}

Monday, September 26, 2011

Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, Our son's story


This month {all of September} is childhood cancer awareness month.  
There is less than a week left to choose to honor our heroes this month and do something.
I promise you, cancer does not discriminate. 
Even an 11-month old, without a care in the world, growing happily, 
loved immensely, can be diagnosed with cancer.

We know.  

This is our sweet son, Ethan, on the day a cancerous tumor was removed.
In this picture, cancer was growing inside of my precious little boy.
{I don't mean to be graphic about it, but I know for me at least, the truth moves.}
I thank God constantly for us knowing this in time.


For having the tumor be visible enough to me to know something was not right.
For a wonderful pediatrician who did not know what was wrong, 
but knew we needed to act immediately.
For the courage at the ER to stand up for my child
when being told by the expert that our son was likely fine and we could leave.
I have no idea what would have happened if we didn't push for the test 
that ultimately told us the unimaginable.  
If the surgeon on call {recommended by our pediatrician}
had not stopped to pray with our family,  promise to take the best care of our little miracle,
and quoted what was to become the most precious bible verse ever to us...

Phillipians 4: 5-6


{Ethan headed in to surgery}

While surgery in and of itself is scary, we were even more overcome by
what we would find out next.

Our worst thoughts were confirmed.  The tumor was cancerous.

{Ethan at home after surgery, 
it was past midnight, little night owl}

{Ethan the day after surgery}

Ethan was an Oncology patient for three years at Children's Memorial in Chicago.
We celebrated milestones in his life, including a first birthday, not knowing if he was 
cancer-free.  Testing was done frequently and routinely.  There were moments his  numbers would climb again.  We were worried despite our best efforts.  We always found something to do after testing, a visit to the zoo, etc., but it was always in the back of our minds, a pit in our stomachs.

Yet, the prayers, encouragement, people who reached out to us helped immensely.
Our little family unit of three, remained incredibly strong.  
We held on to our motto to never take a thing for granted.

{Ethan and Daddy at Children's Memorial Chicago}

Ethan is now 6 and his testing is done yearly. 
While we chose to not live in fear, the reality is that having cancer will always be part of his life.
He has the battle scars that cannot be forgotten, but it will not define him ever.  

For the past {highly celebrated} five years we have shared Ethan's story.

He was Junior Grand Marshall at our Relay for Life.


He walks the survivor lap every year.



We have collectively, as a team of our family and friends, raised over $30,000 to fight cancer.

We share Ethan's story for HOPE.  Soon we will pass along the decision to share his story 
and to determine the role it will play in his life onto our amazing first born.

While lives move forward, and we focus on all of the joy, we will never forget.  
We want all children diagnosed with cancer to have a story like Ethan's.
A story of hope.  A positive outcome.
The only way we can do this is through helping the organizations trying to cure it.



It breaks my heart into pieces knowing there are so many children
whose parents could not have known, whose stories are without a happy ending, 
who have had to endure so very much.
Through Ethan's journey we got to know some of these families.
We have achingly seen our heroes leave us here on earth.
The pain their parents feel, immeasurable.

What can we do?

First, talk about it.  Eradicate the thought that cancer only affects adults.
Fund research.  Support programs for the children diagnosed.

Here are a few of the amazing organizations out there to support.
{I am sure you have heard of them all for good reason.}
There are so many ways to do so, buy your Christmas gifts through St. Jude,
host one of the activities CureSearch suggests at your school.
They do not have to be long, difficult, or time-consuming.

CureSearch
St. Jude
St. Baldricks
{Ethan was the 2010 sponsor child for a local event}

Support camps for children with cancer

Beads of Courage {for children with any serious illness}

{Ethan's beads, one for every milestone in being cancer-free}

The American Cancer Society
Livestrong

I also create capes through Little Marvels  for children with cancer.  
You can contact me at michelle(at)little-marvels(dot)com for more info.  


To all who have taken up the fight against childhood cancer,
we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.  

I thank you for taking the time to read about our little hero's biggest triumph.
It's exactly why his zest for life, his live-every-moment attitude
is so incredibly beautiful and profound.

From one proud mama to my 5 little miracles.
{michelle}

Insightful article on one of Ethan's amazing nurses at Children's Memorial.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Favorite Fall Recipes {pumpkin muffins, gameday chili, and crock pot faves}


Now that it is {officially} fall , I will welcome the season with open arms!!
Oh fall, how I love thee, how I have missed thee!!

One of the ways you know fall has arrived in our home, is smelling these delicious treats baking...
I L-O-V-E pumpkin pie spice!  


Don't they look delicious?  I promise they are!  Here is the recipe if you'd like to make some!

{Mini Pumpkin Muffins}


I leave out the nuts and orange zest.  You can make them even healthier with some substitutions,
I use whole wheat pastry flour at times, you can add ground flax seed or wheat germ.
Today I just made the good ol' regular version.  The recipe calls for a hearty amount of pumpkin,
so that makes me feel good my boys are getting all of those healthy vitamins in.
They gobble these right up!


*****

{THE BEST CHILI RECIPES}


the chili you take home to meet mom for the first time 
vs. 
the man's man's chili

First the nice, dressed up chili version, serve with blue corn tortilla chips or Trader Joe's sweet potato tortilla chips.  While I am not a big fan of the sweet potato, they are so good!!  Then, the nitty, gritty, {insert manly growl} chili.  It has to cook a whole day {not really but it does taste better when you do}. The process is to be revered.   You eat it straight from the bowl, no fork, no spoon, just corn chips. GRRR.

ONE

{Neiman Marcus Chili Blanco}


A staple in our home on Halloween night, although I won't wait that long to make the first batch.  I have made this for more than 10 years, back to our apartment days.  Everyone, loves this, it's a great dish to bring to a party, especially reheated in a crock-pot.

A few helpful hints on the Neiman Marcus Chili Blanco.  Buy Great Northern Beans in a can.
The first few times, I dried the beans, etc.  Honestly the ones in the can taste great and save so much time.  Use a blend of Monterrey Jack cheese and White Cheddar.  Add it in about 30 min. before serving.  When ready to serve,  place more cheese  it in the bottom of the bowl and add chili on top...like that?! I don't think there can ever be too much cheese!


TWO

{Boilermaker Tailgate Chili}




OK, so this one had to be expected.  Matt and I are both Purdue alums.  This is his absolute favorite.
The beer choice is important, no wimpy beers can be chosen, nice hearty beer is a must.  You could probably add anything you wanted to it and you wouldn't notice.  If you're looking to put some hair on your chest, this chili is for you!


{CROCK-POT FAVES}

Around these parts dinnertime can be tough to get on the table. I LOVE my crock-pot as we call it up here in the North.  While I do use it year-round, I would say it's best when the weather turns cooler and I can cook some of our fall favorites.  Although what I love most is having dinner ready as soon as the crew is hungry.


{Healthy Chicken and Potatoes}

Our home smells the absolute best when this is in the crock-pot for dinner.  There is a bit of cooking on the stove beforehand, but so worth it for all of the flavors.  Absolutely delicious with herbs de provence, moist tender chicken, and vegetables my boys can't get enough of!

{Chicken and Dumplings}


This recipe is so simple and you probably  have most of the ingredients on hand.  I use the refrigerated biscuits as well, but the new Simply Buttermilk Biscuits.  This one fits the comfort food bill.

{Salsa Chicken}


I have mentioned this staple of ours before as I made it for the little boys' birthday party.  Oh there are so many variations and things you can do.  The salsa does matter, I usually use Newman's Own, I love Newman's products and that all of their profits go to charity.  And besides that it just plain good.  Soft corn tortillas are the request here with lots of different toppings, guacamole a must!

Happy Fall everyone!!! Enjoy!!!

{michelle}



Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Pits, Peaches, and my Pinterest Birthday


I wanted to be a little whimsical today for turning
{thirty-five}

Finally I realize this...



Let's start with a birthday edition of 
Peaches and Pits...

{PITS}

So the pits today are that I still get a zit, same time every month, 
even on my birthday, lovely.

My eyelids are now more paper-y than before, 
what is up with that?

Oh and the age spot too, oy vey!

Gray hair, well I have had that for years, but lately they are sure
waging a war against any attempt to hide them.  

I begged the woman at Meijer last weekend to card me,
shameless begging, she still would not play along.  
Honey, my children are as old as you...no sympathy umph!

Somehow the last birthday I remember is turning thirty-two.
Sleep deprivation.

I realize I can dance like I used to, but it looks WAY different.
Trying not to embarrass my children.

The {PITS} Irish Blessing:
May you live to be 100 years, with one extra year to repent.

Disclaimer, these pits are really minor in the grand scheme of life,
but on my birthday I get a free pass.  


{PEACHES}

I feel more light-hearted today. 

 Left the dishes in the sink!
Livin' large I tell you!

I realize I have no want to impress anyone except my husband and kids.
I'm lucky they already think I'm pretty cool.

Being loved as sweet and as selfless as this...



Even at ninety-two my lovely Grandma, whom I absolutely adore and cherish,
still has her sass....I can be a sassy-pants for a long time.
God willing

I am healthy, I am here to enjoy my life
for that in and of itself I am blessed.
Nothing better.  

Dancing {see PITS above for more explanation}
This would be my song choice today.



and now on to...

My PINTEREST Birthday

What I would wear...
{purple and gold}
my fall favorite
{pin}
Although skinny jeans and I will never be on friendly terms. 


Breakfast...
{egg harbor cafe}



but the restaurant would come to me,
and I would be served in...

My Birthday Surprise...
{dream kitchen}



I would be whisked away on...
a return trip to 
{Kaanapali Beach MAUI}
Where 11 years ago, we honeymooned and my new husband and I danced in the sand.
He wrangled up a cd player, our song, and champagne for my birthday toast on this beach.
I would love to show my kids this place!


{pin}

I'd have to change into
this sweet outfit...


{pin}

We'd play in the sun all morning and then...

We'd spend a lazy afternoon driving the 
{Road to Hana}

Of course I would let Matt drive, 
because it can be a little harrowing,
so lazy for the passengers, not the driver.
We'd stop to see the waterfalls and 
eat at the stands along the way.

The kids would think it was heavenly.
This is my dream remember?



We'd make it back in time for the kids to sleep in their beds,
after all the return trip would only be an hour.
Time for a late night dinner.

Matt would have
{hi. Jamie Oliver.}



cook a special, fresh, homestyle dinner for us to eat here
{outdoor dining heaven}



My 29 candle serenade would include
{a 14-layer yellow-with-chocolate-frosting cake}



The night would end with...
{a movie}
I could just curl up here
The playlist... Serendipity, Waitress, Say Anything, 
August Rush, The Pursuit of Happyness (intentionally misspelled)...
I would probably fall asleep in about 5 minutes!



Sounds like a pretty amazing day huh?
It still wouldn't hold a candle to today, really.

The {PEACHES} Irish Blessing:

May God grant you many years to live, for sure he must be knowing, the earth has angels all too few and heaven is overflowing.

Thanks for playing along!
May all your birthday dreams come true!!
Sláinte!



  {michelle}

Monday, September 19, 2011

mother*wonder Monday {one} - Sensitive Boys

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Welcome to mother*wonder Monday!!
Visit here to read more about this new feature.

This week's topic...sensitivity in boys.
I am going to start with a little history of
sensitivity from my perspective.

{What it's Like to "Be Sensitive"}

In nearly thirty-five years of life, I think within the past five I have really come
to terms with my sensitivity as a person.

To stop viewing it as a curse, to try to see its blessings. 
To realize that I am simply more aware.
{the term I prefer}
I do believe it has helped me as a mom.

Sensitivity can breed empathy, that this world could definitely use more of.

{Recognizing Sensitivity}

Ever since my oldest was an infant, I knew he was aware too.
Unlike me he always loved being the center of attention.  
While I knew life would be more difficult for him being sensitive
I always held onto his fun-loving spirit getting him through.
Along with us building his confidence and always providing unconditional love.

Then school began.

E rarely cries about things at home, and rarely cries away from home.
but
If he feels like he can't do something he should be able to {tying shoes fast enough},
or feels different from his peers {forgot something for school at home},
or feels like something is not just {how could a friend take that from me?} he gets upset.

It's like I always say, I cry when I am angry, hurt, worried, upset, even happy, not when I am sad.

He is not afraid to be away from me, not shy or scared, just super innocent.
His heart is so pure.

There are many traits of sensitivity, his are maybe a little less common,
or overtaken by his zealous personality.

I thank God for this all the time. I also think a lot has to do with parenting.

{Parenting Sensitive Boys}


I am by no means the expert on this at all, just some thoughts to share.

I know I have more than one sensitive boy. The NICU developmental psychologist asked us
if there were passionate people in our family. We of coursed asked the obvious, why?
 He could tell by my boys' stats...heart rates, breathing, sleeping patterns that they were sensitive.
Besides thinking he was a genius, my husband gently looked at me, my wife is super passionate.  

What do we do with this knowledge?  

I think we first need to know what kind of sensitive...In our older son's case, he is insanely outgoing,
ready to try anything, but sensitive,not the usual combination as I mentioned.

While this is great, sometimes it can take people off guard.
He cried at ____, He was upset by ____ things they may not perceive as a big deal.

Perception holds great weight with the sensitive. Often it will be said,
you misunderstood what I said, you took it the wrong way, you, you, you.

I would say there is just no reason to point the finger. I know children who are sensitive would never
think to say that back to someone. They wouldn't place blame. When it is said to them in that manner,
well it can breed the feeling that they are doing something wrong.

These can also be viewed by the sensitive as uncaring...I wish you'd stop worrying.
It's not that big a deal. I don't know why you're crying about it. 

This one especially for boys..Toughen up, boys don't cry at that. {breaks my heart}

Even though I am cut from the same cloth, I can get frustrated myself
{oh the irony!}so I try to remember...

Sensitivity is not something that can be turned off. Being aware is what makes my kids notice all the amazing things about childhood. Sensitive children are extremely empathetic, such an incredible quality. Confidence is such a great balance to sensitivity.

I think it's also so important to avoid the kids are so resilient sentiments when it comes to sensitivity.

Yes, kids are resilient, but kids who are aware of their surroundings and who drink them in
and are affected by them, need to also be nurtured with familiarity, and acknowledged for
being much brighter than we sometimes give them credit for. {my humble opinion}.

While I am learning as I go too, the best thing is just to talk and listen.

As I mentioned, I am aware, sensitive, whatever you want to call it,
but it does not affect my life in any regard like it did before.

Some of it is learning to not give anyone else control over your life {except for God above}.
Some is life experience, the things I have seen, well the rest just doesn't seem as big of a deal anymore.
All of it is time and prayer.

So, when I want to be frustrated, I have to pause and remember,
wonder
this is who God made them to be, there is a reason.

Thinking of who my little men will turn into, men who care, men who feel, men who understand,
that's what my heart wants most for them. They will do amazing things in this world!

{my sensitive bunch}


Here are some great resources, some I have read, some on my list to read.

Raising Your Spirited Child

Taking time for mother*wonder,

{michelle}


mother*wonder Monday - definition

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Mother*wonder is my way to 
attribute a phrase
to recognizing the
  details of the day
as a mom.

It's stopping in the 
noise of life
to see little what makes
your life 
with your children special.

It's giving attention to 
what they will remember.

So many times we can 
easily remember and guilt ourselves
over the things we did not do.

Mother*wonder is taking 
time to acknowledge
in the moment
how you are impacting your
child's life.

Maybe you didn't make the cookies,
but did you sit and really enjoy them
with your children?

Maybe at bedtime you couldn't
come up with the greatest-story-ever-told
{I think that one was already penned
a few years ago anyway}
but did you give your time and love?

Mother*wonder is the rituals
we create to give our children peace,
comfort, security, and confidence to grow.

I will be posting regularly
on Mondays
about mother*wonder.

You will see the little signature above each post.

Sometimes it may be a little story about our week,
or ideas for finding more time for wonder.  
Ways to capture those moments, and slow things down.

I hope you will find some inspiration as I do from you,
 and I would love to hear any ideas you have.

You can reach me at michelle{at}ourwonderfilledlife{dot}com

thank you,
{michelle}



Our {Wonderfilled} Week 5

A little late, this mama
is under the weather,
this will help me
quit my whining
{grin}.

My gratitude from this past week
is far and wide.

Fall is here.
Apples are ripe for the picking.
I am looking forward to
baking and all the festivities of
the next few months.

I have to admit,
These lil' punkins are my absolute favorite...


This week was uber-full,
with a 2-year-well visit for 4 on Friday.

There are a few follow ups for my little guys.
EEG, possible hernia surgery, eye doctor,
all things we can handle
with Him.

Let me begin...

142. A few hours out with my sweet man.


143. Wearing my favorite warm socks.


144. Boys rough-housing


145. Hearing "me want cookies" in that
famous cookie-monster voice.


146. Being able to buy 3 new winter coats
{thanks to birthday money}


147. Watching a little boy fall in love with karate.


148. S'mores by the fire.


149. A little boy counting down to my birthday
{aren't you excited mom?!}


150. Being able to share what I love here.
{thank you}


151. Four boys on the standard growth chart,
doing so very well.


152. A 2.9 lb. baby now a 24+ lb. little boy.


153.  Hearing the neurologist speak the words of hope
we have waited for...no, I don't believe he has cerebral palsy,
maybe some challenges to overcome, but all things he'll manage.
{our miracle Liam}
of course the sweetest words of the year

Linking up to the gratitude movement
going on at Ann's lovely blog...



Taking time to *wonder*,
{michelle}

Saturday, September 17, 2011

No more monkeys jumping on the bed!!


Ever wondered what 4 little monkeys
do at bedtime?

Enjoy!!




{michelle}

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Choo-Choo Heaven


The weekend before the boys' birthday
we all went to celebrate
{yes, we only throw parties here...grin}
at the 


We went on the weekend
as opposed to the actual birthday,
so E could join in on the fun.

It was also sweet to take the 
quad contingency to 
a place we frequented with big brother.

The little boys were
so full of awe, 
it was so cool 
to see their reactions.

And the owners too.
We were their first set of quadruplets
at the restaurant, ever.
I always love how they start looking
for the camera crew...
{no you're not on candid camera,
hello aging reference}

There were trains EVERYWHERE!....

{on the ceiling}




{count how many trains you can spot in this picture}


{trains serving food}


The thought did cross my mind,
maybe we can recreate this at home?
Or at least build trains to do some of my work?!

My favorite spot
is probably this sweet little area at the front, 
all the buttons are labeled
{love that!}
and they make everything work,
from the carousel to the ferris wheel to the train,
a total homerun for the boys!

{my fave photo}

I believe there were enough trains 
to occupy our little crew,
now if we could just move in!  

The moment that brought it all home
for me, seeing 4 cupcakes on the train 
with candles and one for E
{sappy mama}.

I think everyone in the place was singing
their catchy little Happy Birthday song.


If you live in the Chicagoland area, go!
your children will L-O-V-E it!!!

FIVE stars from our FIVE!!

I want to mention that we can't always
afford to take our boys to fun places like these.
To make this happen, 
Matt and I didn't order, 
the little boys can split 2 meals.
Of course we tip super well
and try to clean up after ourselves.
Point being, there are sacrifices we all make
{small and big}
to give our children these moments!

Happy{almost}Friday!!

{michelle}


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Vintage Wheels Party: Fun!

 I have shown you all the projects
from the party, so now it's time for
the party FUN I promised!!

The day started like any other,

{checking email}


{Liam, not pictured, asked his assistant, too menial a task for him!}

Then the day went like any other,
play, snack, play, eat, play, nap
{wow, TWO sounds pretty great!}

After naptime it all began!

{attempted family photo 1}
  

{attempted family photo 2}


{playing}

 {and more playing}



{food}

I made...




served with corn and flour tortillas,
salsa, guacamole, sour cream, cheeses, tortilla chips

some salads and easy paper tray food
{birthday boy special treat favorites}
Tia Irene made the little cucumber racecar
{so cute!}


{cupcakes and milk, loved by big kids and little kids}


{FOUR jubilant rounds of Happy Birthday to You!!!!}
just look at those adorable, sweet faces!!


{an eventful day for big brother}
tooth fairy dreams that night!


{gifts and after*party silliness}

{the team}


 We had a toast as the boys' party
fell on our 11th anniversary.
I am not so good at
public speaking my feelings.

I am much better at writing.

To the love of my life,
we had no idea this is what was
11 years later would look like.
I love you.  I love my life.
I would not change a moment.
We are stronger
in us, in our faith, in what lies ahead.
You have always believed in me
more than I believe in myself.
Loved me no matter what.
And shown our boys
what being a Dad really means.

Thank you for everything
you have given so selflessly to us.

Together, we can do anything!


I also just wanted to say we
are so grateful to Ethan too,
he has been such a fantastic big brother,
and while his life is about much more
than being a big brother,
he always makes them feel so special and loved.

This day was a celebration for him too.

A special thanks to all who were here to join in on the fun!

{michelle}
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