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November 30, 2009

Counting our blessings, Christmas style...

These past few weeks, have forced Chris and I to sit down and count our blessings. I decided at work today that although I don't want to take away from the girls Christmas spirit, this year's countdown really needs to focus on how blessed we truly are.

This evening, using construction paper and some scrapbooking holiday paper, I made a paper chain with 25 links.

Each night, the girls can take turns removing a new link. Then, we'll alternate and record what we are thankful for on the removed link and put them in our blessings jar to read New Year's eve.

Merry Christmas and blessings to your own family!

November 29, 2009


This picture sums up our lives over these last few days. Chris and I are both feeling extremely sentimental this weekend, so bare with me on this post.

We have so much to be grateful for, but it's been an emotional five days. Chris's mom continues to improve but her diagnosis is still unclear. Additional tests and procedures continue to be scheduled. She understands that she will be at the University of Michigan hospital for quite awhile. The girls were able to see her in the cardiology unit, as well as the rest of the grandchildren, but it wasn't exactly how we pictured Thanksgiving this year. We continue to thank GOD she's still with us.

On Saturday, we received a phone call that one of our dearest friends from graduate school, that his mother died unexpectedly. That phone call quickly put life into perspective again. You just can't ever take life for granted.

Later Saturday afternoon, Josie jumped off the stairs and head-butted my mouth (I was standing over her telling her to stop jumping off the stairs). When she jumped into my mouth with her head, I put my teeth deep inside my lower lip. I've always wanted fuller-lips, but this is ridiculous. I promise to spare you the pictures. Let's just say I'm not exactly looking forward to going to work tomorrow with my new look.

To end this post on a happier note, Chris went and bought a Christmas tree. Right now, only the garland and lights are on it, but it's perfect. It's exactly what we needed this weekend.

Hug your loved ones this week.

November 25, 2009

Nana updates & a few thrifty Christmas crafting ideas...

Quick update on Nana...her procedure was postponed until Monday. On Monday, Chris's mom will undergo a different type of catherization procedure. They are searching for answers with her heart and lungs and are continuing all kinds of diagnostic tests. Some of her tests are being sent to Mayo Clinic. The University of Michigan cardiac units will always have a special place with our family.

Please keep those prayers coming. We love you, Nana.

Now, onto two easy Christmas craft projects!! Both crafts were extremely easy to do and all the materials were purchased from the Dollar Tree store.

Beaded Ornament/Picture Frame

Medium sized plastic beads
Pipe cleaners
* If you want to use this ornament as a picture frame, you will also need a picture, scissors and glue.

Step 1. Take the pipe cleaner and string one bead to an inch of the end of the pipe cleaner. Loop the pipe cleaner around the bead so that the bead doesn't slip off the end of the pipe cleaner.

Step 2. Pour the beads into a small container and let your child string the beads onto the pipe cleaner.
Step 3. Have your child string beads until there is about an inch left of the pipe cleaner.

Step 4. Take the pipe cleaner and form a circle. Close off the ends by twisting the pipe cleaner together. Use the excess pipe cleaner to form a hook.

Step 5. I decided to use this ornament as a picture frame and I printed off one of their recent pictures onto paper and glued it to the back of the bead ornament and trimmed the excess paper. This craft is definitely simple and easy enough for a toddler to complete.

Felt Christmas tree

Dollar Tree is selling these felt trees in both green and red/white. With a little glue and some glitter/sequins, Emma turned a plain tree into a festive little tree. Kinda reminds me of the Charlie Brown tree. It just needed a little love.


Sequins and glitter
Glue and brush
Felt Tree (available at Dollar Tree)

Step 1. Coat the tree branches in glue and sprinkle with green glitter. Let dry.

Step 2. Put drops of glue onto the branches and place sequins on top of the glue. Let dry.

Step 3. After the tree branches have dried, assemble tree. I used a hot glue gun to keep the tree together permanently, but you wouldn’t have to.

Happy Crafting!!

November 24, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

We'll be spending the next few days across the state in the cardiology unit at the University of Michigan Hospital. The girls have all kinds of decorations/artwork to hang in Nana's room.

While we're are there, I'm also hoping we can visit the pediatric cardiology floor to show off just how well Josie is doing since her open-heart surgery. She's definitely not the same little girl.

And for those of you who have emailed me wondering when I'm going to post Christmas crafts, I'm planning on unveiling a couple of projects Friday November 27th (just in case anyone wants to work on a few craft projects over the long holiday weekend). In the spirit of thriftiness, I’ve found several Dollar Store items that I’m completely repurposing into festive Christmas decorations. Throughout the next few weeks, I'm hoping to mix kid-friendly crafts with a few more time-consuming crafts. I can't wait to show you some of the things the girls and I've been working on.

Wishing each of you the blessings of Thanksgiving for those gathered at your tables and at tables past. Josie wants to make sure that everybody enjoys some pumpkin pie too!!

November 23, 2009

A Special Letter from Emma to Josie

Emma was given a homework assignment to write a letter to someone special. She chose to write a letter to Josie.

Dear Josie,
Thank you very much for everything you do for me. Although you can't read yet, I still want to thank you for brightening my day and showing me how much you love and care about me.

I want you to know I secretly love it when you keep touching my stuff and trying to talk to me when I'm doing my homework and say crazy things. I always listen and make comments in my head of how much I love you. Everyday I wake up knowing that I'm the big sister, whether I like it or not. I always am so amazed that a little girl can pull through such a hard heart surgery or life as an orphan.

Thank you for being my baby sister. I love you.

Your big sister, Emma.

November 21, 2009

Nana Updates & Glitterfest!

Thank you for all the comments and personal emails regarding Chris's mom. Early Saturday evening, Nana was transferred from a hospital in Detroit to the University of Michigan cardiology unit. Keep the prayers coming. She's still very critical, but she's in good hands. Josie received amazing care for her heart while she was at UofM and we feel much better knowing that Nana is there.

The girls and I spent Saturday morning creating all kinds of things to dress up Nana's hospital room. Let's just say her art creations will be colorful and Josie had to sweep up all kinds of sequins and glitter once the glue dried.

While I'm showing off artwork, the girls helped me wrap gifts for my sister's upcoming birthday next weekend.

Josie still brings home all kinds of lovely finger paintings from daycare and this week's masterpiece colors reminded me of frosting on a chocolate cake.

Aunt Michelle, pretend to be surprised when you see your birthday packages next Saturday.

On a completely different subject, Emma is now sporting bangs.

She hasn't had bangs in nearly two years. Please don't remind me of how grown up she's looking. I'm still in denial that I'm 41...hee hee.

November 20, 2009

Needing Prayers and a Miracle

We didn't receive good news yesterday about Chris's Mom. We're hoping for a miracle and need all kinds of prayers. The left side of her heart is no longer functioning properly which explains the extreme fluid build-up. She's very critical. We're hoping she can be transferred from a hospital in Detroit to the University of Michigan Hospital. Josie had her open-heart surgery at UofM and we have the utmost respect and confidence in those doctors. Chris is heading back to Detroit today and I'll keep the girls home with me this weekend. I think Nana just might need some special get-well crafts/cards from the girls.

Please keep those prayers coming. We love you, Nana.

November 17, 2009

Trying to contain myself...

Ever see pink, green, purple or blue snow? Well I have. It’s called Martha Stewart fine glitter and it was discounted at my local grocery store at 75% off after Halloween.

Oops. I don’t think it was suppose to be part of the Halloween merchandise, but I wasn’t going to point it out. I have big plans for that glitter. It involves cardboard houses, bottle brush trees, handmade ornaments, vintage postcards and holiday party hats. This colorful snowstorm will hit sometime on Saturday.

In other crafting/decorating news, I picked up two of my favorite publications (sorry, aren't included this time).

I've got BIG crafting plans this weekend. Ready for some holiday ideas???

Prayers for Nana & Meet our new baby!!

Keep the prayers coming for Chris's mom. The catheterization did not indicate any substantial information, but did indicate that one of the four arteries of Carol's previous bypass was showing more blockage than the last catheterization she had. As much as they are concerned about this, they are not sure at this point if the main culprit she is having such severe edema in her legs or shortness of breath. More diagnostics are necessary and they will be doing an ultrasound and an MRI within the next few days. We were all hoping for a magic solution or explanation for her severe health decline during today's procedure...sigh.

In happier news, Lindsey (the little girl we were sponsoring through Pearl River Outreach) has finally been united with her forever family!!

Meet our newest baby. Her name is Lian and she was born September 3, 2009. She has a tumor on her right leg which can hopefully be operated on.

Pearl River outreach is still hoping looking for additional sponsors for other children and you can find more information on their blog at

While I'm on the mission for promoting Chinese-related causes, just a reminder about Operation China Warm-up. See Kay Bratt's blog for more information.

Happy Tuesday. Stay healthy!

November 13, 2009

Let the holiday festivities begin…

Look what I recently found while exploring my favorite antique store!

Why put these things away? I'll only have to dig them out again after Thanksgiving, and there’s a very good chance I’ll tuck them away somewhere special and forget where I put them. I’m starting a Christmas corner in my house…don’t tell anyone.

And for those who keep asking what I'm working on for Christmas - here's a tease.
I just love Christmas villages. The cardboard made-in-Japan-kind are my favorite. I especially love ones that have seen better days. Any excuse to get out my glue, fine glitter and trim makes me happy.

Speaking of glitter and glue, Josie and I worked on another Thanksgiving craft.

Step 1. Recycle a glass jar.

Step 2. Coat the glass jar in glue (I diluted the glue with a bit of water and let Josie use my sponge brush).

Step 3. Press on a few fall leaves onto your jar and then brush another layer of glue over top of the leaves.
Step 4. Sprinkle a bit of fine glitter over the top of the leaves and let dry.

Step 5. Fill your jar with a battery operated candle or tea light candle and enjoy!

To all my prayer warriors out there, my Chris's mom is back in the hospital.

She's been in and out of the hospital quite a bit since August with complications from her diabetes and congestive heart. We are all worried about her. Any extra prayers would be welcome right now. She'll be undergoing a heart catheterization on Tuesday in the hopes that they can figure out why she is retaining so much fluid in her lower extremities. We're praying for you, Nana!!

November 12, 2009

Thankful Thursday

Today I am thankful for a daughter who continues to practice the flute and ride the early bus (6:48am) to attend band 2-3 times a week. I don't know many sixth graders who would be willing to do this on their own without complaining.

Did I mention that Emma is using my former flute? We had it reconditioned and I'm a teeny tiny bit proud that she's using it again.

I'm also grateful for a daughter that finds absolutely JOY and ADMIRATION in her big sister.

They aren't always perfect, but I'm soaking this ALL in today.